Trump Knew For Weeks That Flynn Had Misled The White House

Trump Knew For Weeks That Flynn Had Misled The White House

attribution: NONE

THE NATIONAL MEMO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump knew for weeks that national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the White House about his contacts with Russia but did not immediately force him out, an administration spokesman said on Tuesday.

Trump was informed in late January that Flynn had not told Vice President Mike Pence the whole truth about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Flynn quit on Monday after Trump asked for his resignation, Spicer said. “The issue pure and simple came down to a matter of trust,” Spicer told reporters.

The departure was another disruption for an administration already repeatedly distracted by miscues and internal dramas since the Republican businessman assumed the presidency on Jan. 20.

U.S. lawmakers, including some leading Republicans, called for a deeper inquiry into not just Flynn’s actions but broader White House ties to Russia. Trump has long said that he would like improved relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Trump only moved against Flynn because of media attention to the issue, and not because of concern at any wrongdoing by the former lieutenant general.

“The reason they lost faith or trust in General Flynn only last night when they knew for weeks that he had been lying was that it became public,” Schiff told MSNBC.

A timeline of events outlined by Spicer and a U.S. official showed that Trump had known for weeks about Flynn misleading the vice president.

Trump, a former reality TV star whose catchphrase was “You’re fired!,” has often boasted of his eagerness to get rid of subordinates. But he was not quick to fire Flynn, a strong advocate of a better relations with Russia and a hard line against Islamist militants.

The Justice Department warned the White House in late January that Flynn had misled Pence by denying to him that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a potentially illegal act, a U.S. official said.

Flynn did talk about sanctions with the diplomat, whose calls were recorded by U.S. intelligence officials, the official said. But Pence went on television in mid-January and denied that Flynn had discussed sanctions.

Spicer stressed that the administration believed there was no legal problem with Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak, but rather an issue over the president’s trust in his adviser.

He said the Justice Department sought to notify the White House counsel on Jan. 26. about the discrepancies in Flynn’s accounts.

“The White House counsel informed the president immediately. The president asked them to commit a review of whether there was a legal situation there. That was immediately determined there wasn’t. That was what the president believed at the time from what he had been told and he was proved to be correct,” Spicer told reporters.

“We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue,” he said.

Flynn’s conversations with the ambassador took place around the time that then-President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia, charging that Moscow had used cyber attacks to try to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

A U.S. official familiar with the transcripts of the calls with the ambassador said Flynn indicated that if Russia did not retaliate in kind for Obama’s Dec. 29 order expelling 35 Russian suspected spies and sanctioning Russian spy agencies, that could smooth the way toward a broader discussion of improving U.S.-Russian relations once Trump took power.

LEGAL FALLOUT?

Flynn’s discussions with the Russian diplomat could potentially have been in violation of a law known as the Logan Act, banning private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments about disputes or controversies with the United States. However, nobody has been prosecuted in modern times under the law, which dates from 1799.

Although Flynn is almost certain not to be prosecuted under the Logan Act, he could still face legal trouble if it emerges that he violated other federal laws in his communications with the Russians, said Andrew Kent, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York. The Espionage Act, for example, criminalizes sharing information with foreign governments

Democrats, who do not have control of Congress, clamored for probes into Flynn, and asked how much Trump knew about his connections to Russia.

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called for an investigation of potential criminal violations surrounding the resignation of Flynn and said senior Trump administration officials should face tough questions.

“What I am calling for is an independent investigation with executive authority to pursue potential criminal actions,” Schumer told reporters, saying such a probe could not be led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions or White House lawyers.

Two leading Republicans in the Senate, Bob Corker and John Cornyn, said the intelligence committee should investigate Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

But the highest-ranking Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, sidestepped questions about whether lawmakers should look into Flynn’s Russia ties, adding that he would leave it to the Trump administration to explain the circumstances behind Flynn’s departure.

A broader investigation of the White House and its ties to Russia is not possible without the cooperation either of the Justice Department or the Republican-led Congress.

“Nothing is going to happen without some Republicans moving,” Professor Kent said.

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria and Republican congressional opposition to removing sanctions on Russia make any White House attempt to embrace Putin problematic.

Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign relations, said Flynn’s resignation raised questions about the administration’s intentions toward Putin’s Russia.

Reuters orders reporters to cover Trump like an authoritarian regime: Expect ‘physical threats’

October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

RAW STORY

The Reuters news agency this week recognized the challenges of covering Donald Trump’s presidency by comparing it to authoritarian regimes like Egypt, Yemen and China.

“It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists ‘among the most dishonest human beings on earth’ or that his chief strategist dubs the media ‘the opposition party’,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler wrote in a message to staff on Tuesday. “It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.”

He cited the organization’s work in “Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia” as an example of how to report on the Trump administration.

Adler said that reporters could use experience learned in “nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists.”

Among other advice, the news agency pointed out that reporters should “[g]ive up on hand-outs and worry less about official access.”

“They were never all that valuable anyway. Our coverage of Iran has been outstanding, and we have virtually no official access. What we have are sources,” the memo said. “Get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.”

The letter encouraged reporters to “never be intimidated” by the administration.

“Don’t vent publicly about what might be understandable day-to-day frustration. In countless other countries, we keep our own counsel so we can do our reporting without being suspected of personal animus. We need to do that in the U.S., too,” the message to reporters said. “Don’t take too dark a view of the reporting environment: It’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world and to lead by example – and therefore to provide the freshest, most useful, and most illuminating information and insight of any news organization anywhere.”

(h/t: Ian Millhiser)

Obama: dark Trump vision ‘doesn’t really jibe’ with facts

Obama: dark Trump vision ‘doesn’t really jibe’ with facts

POLITICUS USA

By Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton

The dark vision of America under siege described by Donald Trump in his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination does not mesh with reality, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The dark vision of America under siege described by Donald Trump in his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination does not mesh with reality, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.

Obama noted that the “birds were chirping and the sun was out” for most Americans after Trump’s Thursday night speech, which expounded on the threats to America from illegal immigrants, Islamic State militants, and race-related violence.

“This idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse, this vision of violence and chaos everywhere, doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people,” Obama said at a White House news conference after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Obama said the violent crime rate in America has been lower during his 7-1/2 years in office than any time during the last three or four decades, despite an “uptick” in murders in some cities this year, and the recent high-profile killings of black men and police officers.

The timing of Obama’s quickly arranged short meeting with Pena Nieto presented both leaders with a convenient platform from which to criticize Trump.

Just three weeks ago, Obama – who has six months left in the White House – invited the Mexican president to visit one last time before the U.S. president leaves on Jan. 20.

Trump has pledged to build a wall at the Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to force Mexico to pay for it.

The New York businessman has also promised to slap tariffs on some U.S. products made in Mexico, and seek radical changes or even discard the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Pena Nieto was first to mention Trump, but said he respected both Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and would work with constructively and in good faith with whoever wins the Nov. 8 election.

In March, Pena Nieto likened Trump’s “strident tone” to the ascent of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. But he said on Friday that he had never pointed the finger at any of the candidates, saying that anything he had said had been taken out of context.

And he stressed that the two nations’ futures were closely bound.

“The closeness between the United States and Mexico is more than a relationship between governments. It’s a solid and unbreakable relationship between millions of people who live in both nations,” Pena Nieto said.

Obama said the rate of illegal immigration is down from past decades, and praised Mexico for helping to address a flood of migrants fleeing Central America and for work on drug trafficking.

“A Mexico that has a healthy economy, a Mexico that can help us build stability and security in Central America, that’s going to do a lot more to solve any migration crisis or drug trafficking problem than a wall,” Obama said.

Obama and Pena Nieto praised the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal as addressing some of the criticisms of NAFTA. Both Trump and Clinton have said they oppose the TPP, which has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

“There are going to be different visions about where we should go as a country,” Obama said, running down a list of economic issues facing the nation.

“But we’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, David Alexander and Eric Walsh in Washington, and Dave Graham, Ana Isabel Martinez, Adriana Barrera and Michael O’Boyle in Mexico City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire 12-21-2013

Obamas arrive in Hawaii 12-21-2013

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Obamas Arrive in Hawaii for Vacation [The Caucus] 12/21/2013 7:33:22 AM
After an end-of-the-year news conference, President Obama and his family touched down in Hawaii, his boyhood home, for a …

Monkey Cage: ‘Father Christmas’: The week in one song [Politico] 12/21/2013 8:00:27 AM
With the holiday five days away, I give you Christmas, as seen through the acerbic eyes of Ray Davies and the Kinks. Read full …

GovBeat: Chris Christie just took a big risk on immigration [CBS News] 12/21/2013 7:30:37 AM
In late September 2011, Rick Perry was riding high. Just a month and a half after joining the race for the Republican …

5 takeaways: Obama’s news conference [CBS News] 12/20/2013 5:13:36 PM 
Obama’s message: If you liked 2013, you’ll love 2014.

From crime to cigarettes, Bloomberg leaves his mark on New York [Reuters]12/21/2013 7:03:09 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Love him or hate him, one thing is for sure: New Yorkers will not forget outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg …

Weekly addresses: GOP says Obamacare fails young people; White House looks ahead to 2014 [The Trail] 12/21/2013 6:00:06 AM
(CNN) – House Republicans took aim at Obamacare in their weekly address, while in his own weekly address President Obama …

Analysis: How the White House is rebranding Obamacare for ‘young invincibles’[Reuters] 12/21/2013 1:05:06 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last summer, White House officials planning a nationwide push to urge young adults to enroll in new …

Obama: Diverse Olympic delegation “speaks for itself” [Politico] 12/21/2013 12:25:29 AM
President Obama explains his decision to send LGBT athletes in the U.S. delegation to Olympics in Sochi, Russia, saying such …

Obama sidesteps question about Snowden amnesty [Politico] 12/21/2013 12:24:33 AM
President Obama says NSA leaker Edward Snowden started a worthwhile conversation about privacy, but he also damaged U.S. …

Federal Judge Rules That Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Utah [New York Times]12/20/2013 11:19:33 PM
The judge said that Utah’s amendment barring same-sex marriage violated the United States Constitution. If the ruling is …

2013: The year of gay marriage? [NBC News] 12/20/2013 1:17:01 PM
We’ve already published our 10 biggest political stories of the year. They include the government shutdown, the bungled …

10 things you need to know today: December 4, 2013

Lift off!
Lift off! (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Week

A judge clears Detroit to slash pensions, SpaceX marks a new milestone, and more

1. Judge rules Detroit deserves bankruptcy protection
A judge ruled Tuesday that the city of Detroit can remain under bankruptcy court protection. The decision means the city can impose pension cuts on its employees to salvage its finances. Unions and pension managers had argued that giving the city such power violated retiree contract protections. The ruling could change the course of bankruptcies in other cities, where leaders had assumed pensions were untouchable. [BloombergNew York Times]
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2. SpaceX marks a new milestone with rocket launch
SpaceX launched a 224-foot rocket carrying a massive satellite from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday night. The SES-8 telecommunications satellite will be released in geostationary transfer orbit nearly 50,000 miles from Earth — about a quarter of the way to the moon — marking a record distance into space for the private company, which also has a contract to resupply the International Space Station. The launch had been delayed twice. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. Train engineer nodded off before deadly crash
The engineer of a New York commuter train that derailed early Sunday, killing four people, told investigators he was “in a daze” before the crash, CNN reported Tuesday. A union official said the engineer, William Rockefeller, apparently nodded off briefly just before the crash. The Metro-North Hudson Line train in the Bronx was traveling more than 50 miles per hour faster than the speed limit when it jumped off the tracks in a sharp turn. [CNNNew York Times]
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4. French investigators say Arafat wasn’t poisoned, after all
Yasser Arafat’s widow says French scientists have ruled out poisoning by radioactive polonium as the cause of the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death. Palestinians suspect Israel of poisoning Arafat, but Israel denies it. A recent Swiss lab report said Arafat’s remains had high levels of polonium, boosting suspicions of murder. Arafat’s widow, Suha, says she is “upset by these contradictions by the best European experts.” [Associated Press]
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5. Kim Jong Un fires his uncle, a rival
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly dismissed his powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who played a key role in his rise to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. South Korean lawmakers said Tuesday that Kim appears to have forced out his uncle, who still had loyal followers in the old guard, to consolidate his power base and boost the influence of his younger supporters. [Reuters]
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6. Newtown 911 recordings are being released
Newtown, Conn., officials warned parents and other residents to prepare themselves emotionally for the release of nearly half an hour of 911 recordings from last year’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Town leaders had tried to keep the tapes private, but the state Freedom of Information Commission ordered them to be released. The town only recently dropped its challenge of the decision. [Reuters]
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7. Americans see the U.S. losing power abroad
For the first time in 40 years, a majority of Americans said the U.S. was less important around the world than it was a decade ago, according to a Pew survey released on Tuesday. Seventy percent of the poll’s respondents said America is not as well respected as it used to be. More than half said the U.S. should “mind its own business” instead of having an active foreign policy. [BBC News]
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8. Hezbollah accuses Israel of assassinating a top commander
A senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan al-Laqis, was gunned down outside his home just south of Beirut on Wednesday. The Lebanese Islamist militant group immediately announced the killing and blamed Israel, threatening swift repercussions for “this ugly crime.” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel had nothing to do with the killing. “They don’t need facts,” he said of Hezbollah, “they just blame anything on Israel.” [Associated Press]
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9. Space agency plans to plant a garden on the moon
NASA plans to send seedlings where no plant has gone before — the moon. The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat project aims to catch a ride with one of the private companies competing for Google’s Lunar X Prize, and plant basil, flowers, and turnips on the moon in late 2015. “They can test the lunar environment for us acting as a ‘canary in a coal mine,'” NASA said. “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can.” [SlateNASA]
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10. Coroner completes autopsies after crash that killed Paul Walker
Universal Pictures said Tuesday that it was suspending production of the next Fast & Furiousmovie while authorities investigate the fiery crash that killed one of the franchise’s stars, Paul Walker. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said it had completed autopsies on two bodies found in the mangled limited-edition Porsche sports car. The results, expected Wednesday, should formally identify the bodies and determine who was driving. [Washington Post]

10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2013

Remembering a president.
Remembering a president. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Week

The nation mourns JFK, the world moves closer to a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, and more

1. America honors JFK
Thousands gathered in Dallas, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, to pay tribute to the former president on Friday. The ceremony, honoring the 50th anniversary of the president’s death, featured historian David McCullough, who read excerpts from Kennedy’s speeches. Many other observances were held across the nation, too. [New York Times]

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2. Iran nuclear deal appears imminent
Things are looking up in Geneva, where negotiators from a half dozen world powers and Iran are coming closer to a deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear program. The key sticking points, largely centering on Iran’s enrichment of uranium and one particular partially built reactor, seemed to have largely been overcome. Any deal would largely just be a first step on the road to a longer-lasting comprehensive agreement that is still likely months away. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. ObamaCare signup delayed
The Department of Health and Human Services will delay open enrollment in ObamaCare in 2015. The signup start date will be pushed back to November 15, from October 15, and the enrollment period will be extended to eight weeks instead of seven. Health officials hope the extra time will allow insurance companies and consumers to avoid the glitches from the first rollout. The White House insists it’s not about pushing the deadline until after the midterm elections. [CNN]

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4. Islamist factions in Syria unite to create massive rebel army
The six major Islamist groups in Syria merged to form the Islamist Front under common leadership. The newly united rebel army poses a serious threat to Western-backed military forces. The head of the Islamic Front told Al Jazeera their goal is “to topple the Assad regime completely and build an Islamic state.” [Reuters]

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5. Iraq is rocked by bombings, again
Bombings and shootings broke out in Iraq on Friday, killing at least 23 people. The violence is part of a wave of sectarian attacks throughout the country. The attacks have not been claimed by any one organization, but the Iraqi government is blaming Sunni militant groups, including al Qaeda. [Reuters]

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6. 100-million-year-old ocean discovered under Chesapeake Bay
Researchers discovered the remains of an ancient saltwater ocean trapped a half-mile underground. An asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago created a crater that preserved about 3 trillion gallons of seawater. According to government hydrologists, the find is “the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world.”[USA Today]

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7. Afghanistan rejects call to sign a security pact with the U.S.
A representative for Afghan President Hamid Karzai rejected a U.S. plea to sign a security agreement by the end of the year. Karzai suggested sealing the Bilateral Security Agreement in April 2014, which the U.S. also rejected. If no agreement is reached, the U.S. could pull the majority of its troops by the end of next year. [Reuters]

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8. Google patents robot to help people manage their social media
The software learns users’ social media patterns to mimic their response to updates and messages on social media. The program still needs refinement, but Google hopes it will help manage the deluge of virtual connections.[BBC]

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9. Comcast mulls a bid for Time Warner
Comcast shareholders are urging management to consider bidding on Time Warner Cable Inc, according to CNBC. The report said Time Warner prefers Comcast to buy it, but earlier this monthReuters reported Charter Communications is also interested. [Reuters]

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10. Bitcoin accepted in space voyages
Virgin Galactic announced it will accept Bitcoin as currency in future trips into space. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, wrote in a blog post Friday, “Bitcoin, the virtual currency, has really captured the imagination recently as one of the world’s most innovative businesses looking to the future.” [Forbes]

Taegan Goodard’s Political Links – 11-12-2013

This photo Aug. 1, 2013 photo, courtesy of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., shows from left, Inhofe’s grandson Cole Inhofe, Sen. Inhofe and Inhofe’s son Perry Inhofe in Oshkosh, Wis. Dr. Perry Inhofe, was killed in a weekend plane crash in northeast Oklahoma. Photo: Ryan Jackson, AP

Political Wire

Sen. Inhofe’s son killed in plane crash [Politico] 11/12/2013 6:19:38 PM 
The son of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has died in a plane crash, a person close to Inhofe and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s …

Medicaid signups an early Obamacare bright spot [Washington Post] 11/12/2013 4:47:47 AM
Study: 444,000 people in 10 states have enrolled already, and 15 other states are also expanding their Medicaid programs under …

10 Things Members and Staff Should Know About Open Enrollment [Wall Street Journal] 11/12/2013 4:30:00 AM
Open enrollment season for members of Congress and designated staff started quietly Monday, coinciding with a federal holiday …

NBC poll: Christie faces divided GOP, trails Clinton in hypothetical ’16 race [NBC News] 11/12/2013 3:10:29 AM
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie runs for president in 2016, he would likely face the dual challenges of uniting a fractured …

Done: Congress seems to be winding down [CBS News] 11/11/2013 11:50:54 PM
Expectations are that the last weeks of 2013 will not produce any legislative breakthroughs.

A Face-Off Outside Dallas in the Escalating Battle Over Texas’ Gun Culture [Reuters]11/11/2013 11:48:22 PM
A meeting of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was interrupted by a peaceful protest by armed members of Open Carry …

Listening Post: After Near Miss on Iran, Kerry Says Diplomacy Is Still the Right Path [Reuters] 11/11/2013 11:19:33 PM
As the prospect of a nuclear deal with Iran becomes more real, Secretary of State John Kerry is having to fend off those who …

Official at Health Site Says He Didn’t Know of Potential Risk [Reuters] 11/11/2013 11:18:28 PM
The chief digital architect for the federal health insurance marketplace, Henry Chao, told congressional investigators that he …

Back and Forth in Undecided Virginia Attorney General Race [Reuters] 11/11/2013 10:52:07 PM
Mark R. Herring, the Democrat, edged ahead of Mark D. Obenshain, the Republican, on Monday.

Fewer than 50,000 sign up on Obamacare website, media report suggests [CNN]11/11/2013 9:02:02 PM 
It appears fewer than 50,000 people successfully signed up for health coverage through the federally run Obamacare …

 

10 things you need to know today: October 29, 2013

China suspects a crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was a premeditated suicide attack.

The Week

A judge blocks new Texas abortion restrictions, China suspects a crash at Tiananmen Square was a suicide attack, and more

1. Judge strikes down key Texas abortion restrictions
On Monday, a federal judge rejected two abortion limits that Texas state lawmakers had approved during a special legislative session in July. One of the rules limited doctors’ options in prescribing pregnancy-ending drugs; the other required doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the measures, which were to take effect Tuesday, unconstitutionally restricted women’s abortion rights. [USA Today]
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2. China suspects Tiananmen crash was a suicide attack
Chinese authorities suspect that the people who drove an SUV into a crowd of people at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were carrying out a premeditated suicide attack, Reuters reported Tuesday. The vehicle burst into flames, killing five people, including three who were inside. At least 38 others were injured. The incident occurred ahead of a November conclave of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, which is expected to announce major economic reforms. [Reuters]
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3. Obama may ban spying on friendly heads of state
President Obama is preparing to order the National Security Agency to stop spying on leaders of U.S. allies, as the governments of Germany and Spain protest allegations of NSA eavesdropping. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the U.S. shouldn’t collect phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. She said her committee would review all intelligence collection programs. [New York Times]
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4. University agrees to pay Sandusky accusers millions
Penn State said Monday that it would pay $59.7 million to 26 men who said they were sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was sentenced to 30 to 60 years last year. Sandusky admitted to taking showers with some of the boys, but denied molesting them. He has appealed his conviction from prison. University President Rodney Erickson said the settlement payments should be a “step forward in the healing process.” [Los Angeles Times]
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5. Al Shabab leaders killed in apparent drone strike
An airstrike reportedly killed two commanders of the terrorist group al Shabab in southern Somalia on Monday. Locals said the attack destroyed a vehicle the men were riding in. A Kenyan military source said government troops had raided nearby Jilib, but witnesses reported that the vehicle was hit by an armed aerial drone. Al Shabab was behind a terrorist attack that killed 67 people at an upscale Kenyan mall last month. [BBC News]
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6. Apple stock sinks despite strong iPhone sales
Apple shares dipped by 12 percent after hours on Monday after the smartphone and tablet powerhouse reported disappointing quarterly profits, despite strong iPhone sales. Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones in its third quarter. The company said it made between $55 billion and $58 billion, a bit better than Wall Street expected. Investors, however, had hoped for an even stronger showing, so many sold shares to cash in on the stock’s recent gains. [Reuters]
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7. White House extends ObamaCare penalty deadline by six weeks
The White House officially announced Monday night that it was extending by six weeks the deadline for Americans to get health insurance without incurring a penalty. People without insurance will now have until March 31 to avoid penalties. Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner is set to testify to Congress on Tuesday. [New York Daily NewsPolitico]
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8. Brazilian surfer may have set big-wave record
Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle on Monday may have ridden the biggest wave ever surfed. Witnesses said the massive wave off the coast of Portugal appeared to be 100 feet tall. That would beat a record Hawaii native Garrett McNamara set in January in the same spot. Burle’s feat came shortly after he rescued his friend Maya Gabriel, who nearly drowned trying to catch another monster wave. [CBS News]
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9. Town sues Sriracha maker over spicy odors
The city of Irwindale, Calif., filed a lawsuit on Monday asking a judge to shut down a Sriracha factory, because people are complaining that spicy odors are giving them headaches and burning their eyes. City officials said they just wanted Huy Fong Foods, maker of the Asian hot sauce, to come up with a plan to eliminate the problem with the fumes. The factory processes the chilis needed for the whole year’s worth of sauce in the three months between September and December. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Red Sox take game five
The Boston Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the World Series with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. The Red Sox got help from star David Ortiz, who went three for four with an RBI double and is now hitting .733 in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox are now just one win away from their third baseball championship in 10 years, and the final two games scheduled will be at their home field, Fenway Park. [Boston GlobeBBC News]

Report: U.S. Tracked Merkel’s Cell Phone Since 2002

Aptopix-germany-obama-visit
AP Photo / Gero Breloer

Apparently this all started during the paranoid years of the Bush/Cheney administration…

TPM LiveWire

The United States may have monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone for over ten years, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Der Speigel reported that Merkel’s mobile phone was listed by the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002, and it was still on the list weeks before President Barack Obama visited Berlin in June, according to Reuters.

The magazine cited an SCS document that said the NSA had a “not legally registered spying branch” in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, where NSA and CIA staff were able to monitor communications.

The report noted Obama told Merkel he would have stopped the surveillance had he known about it, according to Reuters.

 

Obamacare applications near 700,000, official says

The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ”Obamacare”, outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Reuters

About 700,000 applications have been submitted for U.S. healthcare coverage being offered through new exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the number during an update for journalists about the healthcare marketplace, which has had a rocky rollout since enrollment in the new plans began on Oct 1.

The U.S. government is operating the healthcare.gov website, which has been plagued by technical problems since the outset and is the portal for 36 states; the remaining states are operating their own online marketplaces. The nearly 700,000 applications are the total from both the state- and federally-run exchanges, Julie Bataille, a CMS spokeswoman, said on the media call.

Applications for at least 390,000 people have been completed through the state-run exchanges, according to a Reuters tally of state reports.

Completed applications mean that the applicants received a determination about whether they are eligible for tax credits or the Medicaid program for low-income Americans. Applicants have not necessarily chosen a plan.

While some states have released numbers for people who have enrolled in plans, Bataille said she did not have that figure, but that CMS would release it monthly.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated earlier this year that 7 million people would buy the new private plans offered by state exchanges for coverage next year.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Sharon Begley; Editing by Richard Chang)