Jimmy Carter Backs Donald Trump

Article credited to U.S.News: http://www.usanews.com

Jimmy Carter Backs Donald Trump

The former Democratic president reportedly has offered to work on behalf of the current commander in chief.

By Megan Trimble, Associate Editor, Social Media |Oct. 23, 2017, at 11:37 a

Former US President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017. / AFP / POOL / SAUL LOEB

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told The New York Times he’d be willing to help out the Trump administration. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump may have found an unlikely ally in Jimmy Carter.

Some might think Carter, a Democrat, would hold much different political viewpoints than Trump. But the 93-year-old former president told The New York Times he would be up for a diplomatic mission on behalf of the current administration, going to North Korea to help address Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuits.

During his interview with Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, Carter said the U.S. has overestimated the influence China has on North Korea – a comment that comes as Trump repeatedly has called on Beijing to rein in the Hermit Kingdom. Yet he also defended Trump when asked about what Dowd described as the president’s “souring our image in the world,” responding that Trump “might be escalating” things but that the issue preceded his time in the Oval Office.

“The United States has been the dominant character in the whole world and now we’re not anymore,” Carter said. “And we’re not going to be. Russia’s coming back and India and China are coming forward.”

The interview isn’t the first time Carter has defended the president. In September, he expressed optimism about Trump’s approach to immigration law, saying the president might actually be able to achieve movement on the issue, according to The Associated Press. In those comments, Carter also said Trump deserves credit where credit is due.

With Dowd, Carter shared his thoughts on a range of issues, from North Korea to the role of the media. Here’s a look at some of his key comments.

1. On whether he would go to North Korea on behalf of the Trump administration amid rising tensions:

“I would go, yes,” Carter told the Times.

Carter said he has talked with Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, but has so far gotten what Dowd described as “a negative response.”

“I told him that I was available if they ever need me,” he said.

2. On former President Barack Obama:

“He made some very wonderful statements, in my opinion, when he first got in office, and then he reneged on that,” Carter said of Obama and the Middle East.

Carter was also tough on Obama’s work with North Korea, saying he had “refused” to talk to the Hermit Kingdom more. And he lamented U.S. involvement in the conflict in Yemen under the Obama administration.

Carter told the Times he does not have Obama’s email address, and that he had his “best relationship” with George H. W. Bush when Bush was in office.

3. On the media’s coverage of the 45th presidency:

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” he said.

Carter said he thinks members of the news media “feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.” But he didn’t give Trump a complete pass, saying he thinks the president is “exacerbating” racial division in the country.

“Yes, I think he is exacerbating it,” he told the Times. “But maybe not deliberately.”

4. On his preferred candidate for the 2016 Democratic nomination:

“We voted for Sanders,” Carter said of how he and and his wife, Rosalynn, voted during the 2016 Democratic primary, aligning with what he has said in the past.

Carter and his wife, however, disagree on the effect of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. While Rosalynn Carter said the Russians “obviously did” steal the election from eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Carter said he doesn’t think “there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes.”

5. On the controversy over NFL demonstrations during the national anthem to protest racial discrimination and police brutality:

“I think they ought to find a different way to object, to demonstrate. I would rather see all the players stand during the American anthem,” he said.

But the public debate over removing Confederate monuments was less clear for the former president.

“That’s a hard one for me,” Carter said, adding that his great-grandfather and relatives fought on the Southern side in the Civil War. “I never have looked on the carvings on Stone Mountain or the statues as being racist in their intent. But I can understand African-Americans’ aversion to them, and I sympathize with them. But I don’t have any objection to them being labeled with explanatory labels or that sort of thing.”

Jimmy Carter Defends Trump In NY Times Interview
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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Presidential Palace

All five living former presidents gathered at Texas A&M University on Saturdayfor a Hurricane Harvey relief benefit, according to the Dallas Morning News. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter all spoke at the “Deep From the Heart” benefit concert organized by One America Appeal, which had raised more than $31 million from over 80,000 donors by Saturday. “When they see their neighbors, their friends, when they see strangers in need, Americans step up,” Obama said, according to the Morning News. “And as heartbreaking as the tragedies that took place here in Texas, Florida, in Puerto Rico, in the U.S. Virgin Islands have been, what we’ve also seen is the spirit of America at its best.” Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and former Vice President Dick Cheney were also at the benefit concert—plus, Lady Gaga. President Donald Trump did not attend.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Real Talk

Former President George W. Bush delivered a harshly worded speech on ThursdayHe condemned the divisive actions of President Donald Trump, though he stopped short of actually calling out the president by name. “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said during a sixteen-minute address at “The Spirit of Liberty” event in New York, sponsored by his presidential center. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.” Bush said our political system has been corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” and cautioned against the U.S. turning inward under Trump. “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” Bush said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.” He took aim at white supremacy too. “Our identity as a nation—unlike many other nations—is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood,” Bush said. “This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

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Still bruised from Clinton loss, left takes aim at Electoral College in court

Still bruised from Clinton loss, left takes aim at Electoral College in court

A liberal-led push to overhaul the Electoral College could be moving from the op-ed pages to the courtroom, as a Harvard professor who flirted with a dark-horse Democratic presidential bid last year vows litigation to change the system.

Criticism of the Electoral College was resurgent in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss. Clinton recently said she wants the system “eliminated.” The latest effort isn’t aimed at dismantling the structure entirely – but rather, the winner-take-all system used by 48 states in awarding electors, which ends up focusing presidential races on a handful of battlegrounds.

“With a winner-take-all, most of America is ignored,” professor Lawrence Lessig said in previewing his legal case – which, like any challenge to the Electoral College, faces a steep uphill climb.

Lessig, though, argues the system violates the 14thAmendment’s one-man-one-vote principle. Currently, all but two states award all electors to the winner of the state’s popular vote. Lessig said 24 people have volunteered to be plaintiffs, though he’s still deciding which states to focus on.

“We are looking for a Republican from a blue state whose vote never counts and a Democrat from a red state whose vote never counts,” he said.

Lessig, who was very briefly a Democratic candidate for president for the 2016 cycle, insists this isn’t a partisan endeavor and will consist of at least two separate lawsuits. If he were to beat the odds and prevail, the kind of overhaul he seeks could have mixed results — theoretically allowing Democrats to pick up electoral votes in deep-red territory and Republicans to win electors in deep-blue states like California and New York.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig speaks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire September 19, 2015.      REUTERS/Brian Snyder - GF10000212698

Lawrence Lessig, shown in New Hampshire during his stint as a Democratic presidential candidate in September 2015, wants to overhaul the Electoral College.  (Reuters)

While it would require a constitutional amendment to ditch the Electoral College for a national popular vote system, the Constitution does not mandate how states award electors. Maine and Nebraska actually divvy up electors by congressional district. Donald Trump picked up one Maine elector in 2016 and Barack Obama won a Nebraska elector in 2012.

Another alternative—which Lessig prefers—would be a proportional system, where a losing candidate could still get a percentage of the state’s electors based on the popular vote.

Lessig contends other proposals, such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, could take decades to fully implement. By contrast, a court ruling could force states to move to a proportional system by 2020.

Lessig, meanwhile, warns that election results that defy the popular vote could become more common.

“Two of the last three presidents were inaugurated without winning the popular vote,” he noted, referring to Trump’s victory in 2016 and George W. Bush’s in 2000. It has happened in just three prior elections: 1888, 1876 and 1824. “The number of times the Electoral College doesn’t conform with the popular vote will go up given the demographics,” Lessig predicted.

‘The Supreme Court could knock this out.’

– Election lawyer Roger Austin, casting doubt on an Electoral College court challenge

The current system undoubtedly concentrates campaign spending. Just 14 battleground states saw 99 percent of ad spending and 95 percent of candidate visits for campaign purposes in 2016, according to Equal Citizens.

David Boies, who was the lead counsel for former Vice President Al Gore in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case in 2000, and Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics attorney under President George W. Bush, are part of the legal team for the case.

But the system has its defenders.

Gary Rose, chairman of the political science department at Sacred Heart University and author of “Haywire: A Chronology of the 2016 Presidential Contest,” said it provides stability.

“Under a district plan, we could see a number of third-party candidates emerge, competing for a narrow portion of the vote by just running in congressional districts,” Rose told Fox News. “A proportional system would be a recipe for France, a multi-party system, with a plethora of small parties that are hardly bigger than an interest group.”

Interestingly, fear of third parties brought Congress to its closest point of scrapping the Electoral College. After third-party candidate George Wallace won 46 electoral votes in 1968, the House of Representatives voted 338-70 in 1969 to abolish the Electoral College and require the winner to a presidential election to carry at least 40 percent of the vote. The proposed constitutional amendment was blocked by a Senate filibuster.

While candidates visit only a handful of swing states now, Rose said, under a national popular vote system, presidential candidates would ignore smaller states.

“A national popular vote would be a detriment to the American people, and many voters would really feel disenfranchised if the campaign moved only to the urban areas,” Rose said.

Proving standing for the litigation could pose a challenge depending on which court hears the cases, added Roger Austin, an election lawyer and former general counsel for the Florida Republican Party who also questions the case’s legal merits.

“The Supreme Court could knock this out as a political question that they do not want to tackle or leave to the political branches,” Austin told Fox News. “The court has ducked a lot of cases this way.”

Trump won 306 electoral votes in 2016 to Clinton’s 232, though Clinton won a plurality of the popular vote, with 48.5 percent to Trump’s 46.4 percent. The irony might be that Trump could still have triumphed under a reformed system.

Under a district plan, Trump would have won 290 electoral votes, according to an analysis by the website 270toWin.com. The analysis found under a proportional system, Trump would have won 267 votes to Clinton’s 265. A third party would have gained six electoral votes, sending the matter to the House of Representatives.

But Lessig’s own analysis of a proportional system found Clinton winning the needed 270 to Trump’s 267.

While technically looking ahead to future elections, Lessig hasn’t quite given up on the last one. He recently penned a Medium post imagining a scenario where Trump is impeached, eventually leading to House Speaker Paul Ryan becoming president – and then handing the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

“I realize this all sounds crazy right now,” he wrote.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: All players ‘should’ stand for national anthem

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: All players ‘should’ stand for national anthem

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he believes all players “should” stand for the national anthem — but stopped short of imposing a rule on standing for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Goodell, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said it is important for the league and its players to honor and respect “our flag and our country.

“We are not afraid of the tough conversations,” he added. “Out of those discussions, [players] understand that owners and the NFL do really care about the issues.”

Asked about owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

A couple hours later, Trump tweeted his thoughts to the NFL in no uncertain terms: “Too much talk, not enough action. Stand for the National Anthem.”

Goodell, who has been in New York City with teams owners for their annual fall meeting, defended the athletes who have been taking a knee in protest, saying they are “not doing this to be disrespectful to the flag, but they understand how it’s being interpreted.”

“We want our players to stand. We’re going to continue to encourage them to stand,” he said.

Last week, Goodell sent a memo to NFL executives and club presidents aiming to move past the weeks-long feud between the White House and players.

Related News…

“The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country,” he wrote last week. “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”

On Wednesday, Goodell said the league is working with its players to see how it can continue to support them and how changes can be made in their communities.

“They are very clear about and very knowledgeable about [what needs change],” he said.

The “take a knee” movement — protesting police brutality and other issues — began when Colin Kaepernick first sat for the anthem during the NFL preseason in early August 2016.

It since has grown to a sizable number of NFL and WNBA players and even spread abroad when a German professional soccer team took a knee during pregame ceremonies in solidarity last Sunday.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Leading the Pack

Austin appears to be the frontrunner to land Amazon’s new headquarters, at least according to one recent analysis. The financial-services division of Moody’s Analytics looked at 65 potential locations for Amazon’s new “HQ2” project, and Austin is at the top of the list, according to Business Insider. Moody’s measured a number of factors on Amazon’s wish list, including business environment (economic growth, the city’s history of corporate tax incentives, and the region’s credit ratings), a skilled workforce, costs (pertaining to real estate, taxes, energy prices, and labor), quality of life, and transportation. “Austin has a much lower cost of living than places such as Silicon Valley,” Moody’s analysts wrote. “Even though house prices have been rising and are high for Texas or the South, they are well below those in California or the Northeast. Anecdotally the quality of life is high, and many want to live in the ‘Silicon Hills.’ Further, being in Texas, Austin resides in a business-friendly state that seeks to attract and keep companies. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, which is headquartered in Austin, is another factor in the metro area’s favor.”

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Trump denies telling widow of fallen soldier, ‘He knew what he signed up for’

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Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip Lead Singer, Dies at 53

Article credited to NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com

Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip Lead Singer, Dies at 53

TORONTO — Gord Downie, who made himself part of Canada’s national identity with songs about hockey and small towns as lead singer and songwriter of iconic rock band The Tragically Hip, has died at age 53 after a battle with brain cancer.

A statement on the band’s website said he died Tuesday night “with his beloved children and family close by.” The statement did not give a cause of death, though he had been diagnosed earlier with brain cancer.

Since The Tragically Hip’s first album in 1987, the band has provided a soundtrack for the lives of many Canadians. “Ahead by a Century” and “Bobcaygeon” are among the best known.

Image: FILE PHOTO: Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie takes part in an honouring ceremony at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau
Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie in 2016. Chris Wattie / Reuters file

While Canadian musicians Drake, the Weeknd and Justin Bieber have made waves internationally, the Tragically Hip built a huge following of die-hard homegrown fans.

“There will never be another one like you, Gord, Rest in peace my friend,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.

Downie was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable brain cancer, in December 2015. When the band made the news public the following May, expressions of sorrow poured in from across the country.

That same day, the band said it would mount a Canadian tour despite Downie’s cancer. Tickets for the 2016 summer tour sold out almost immediately, culminating in a national broadcast of the band’s final tour stop at Kingston, Ontario. Millions tuned in.

Downie later told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that he needed six teleprompters during the concert series so he would not forget lyrics. But through it all, Downie remained the consummate showman, rocking out on stage in distinctive leather suits.

During his final show, Downie called out to Trudeau, who attended the concert, to help fix problems in Canada’s aboriginal communities.

 Justin Trudeau Cries Over Death of Tragically Hip Frontman1:06

A few months after that concert, Downie released a solo album with an accompanying graphic novel and animated film inspired by the tragedy of state-funded church schools that Canadian aboriginal children were forced to attend from the 19th century until the 1970s. He said his “Secret Path” project was aimed at Canada’s decades-long government policy of requiring aboriginal children to attend residential schools, where physical and sexual abuse was often rampant.

Born in Amherstview, Ontario, Downie said he “always had a keen ear for music” and while all the other kids were spending their allowance on baseball trading cards, he was buying records “from the fathers of rock ‘n’ roll.”

While at university, he met Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fray, and they formed The Tragically Hip, which started out as a cover band.

Their first self-titled EP was released in 1987 and their breakthrough debut full-length album, “Up to Here,” was released in 1989. Since then they have released 14 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. They have received numerous Canadian music awards, including 14 Juno awards, the equivalent of the Grammy in Canada.

The band’s 2012 album, “Now for Plan A,” was lyrically influenced by Downie’s wife and her successful battle with breast cancer.

Downie also produced three solo albums since 2001, as well as a collaboration with fellow Canadian indie darlings The Sadies.

Downie is survived by his wife and four children.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

ARTICLE CREDITED TO TEXAS MONTHLY: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Balloon Crash

Over a year after a hot air balloon crashed in Lockhart, leaving the pilot and all fifteen passengers dead, the National Transportation Safety Board finally completed its investigation into the incident. The board revealed its findings during a hearing in Washington on Tuesday, and found that poor regulatory oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration contributed to the deadly crash, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The safety board specifically recommended the FAA require medical checks for commercial balloon pilots, after revealing that the pilot, Skip Nichols, had been significantly impaired at the time of the crash by a cocktail of drugs, including Oxycodone, Valium, and enough Benadryl to have the same effect as drunk driving. Nichols also had prior convictions for drunk driving, but was still able to get his pilot’s license. After the hearing, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, an Austin Democrat, and Senator Ted Cruz issued statements supporting the safety board’s recommendation.

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Behind the dramatic rescue of American-Canadian couple from Haqqani captivity

Article credited to Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com

Behind the dramatic rescue of American-Canadian couple from Haqqani captivity

Armed with information from U.S. intelligence, Pakistani soldiers staged a dramatic but successful rescue operation last week to free American Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, 34, and their three young children after five years in Haqqani network captivity.

According to multiple U.S. sources with close connections to the operation, no prisoners were exchanged and ransom money was not paid. The Canadian government also asserted that their longstanding policy of not fulfilling ransom demands remains, and no money was dished out.

Because of information obtained from drone footage, it is believed that the U.S. had long known of their location, as did Pakistan’s military arm ISI, and it was “always a matter of someone pulling the trigger to go over and get them.” A Pakistani official told the press Friday that the car carrying the family was tracked down soon after it crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan, but sources say that the family long had been in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

“Anything inside Pakistan has to be done carefully,” one source with knowledge of the operation told Fox News. “There is still a deep trust issue between the U.S. and Pakistan.”

May 5: Pakistani army troops guard the perimeter of the walled compound of a house where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Pakistani army troops guarding the perimeter of the walled compound of a house where Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden was caught and killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  (AP, File)

So why did the rescue happen now?

Sources say the U.S. government started floating rumors some time ago within the Pakistani high military that a rescue operation was highly probable. It is believed that while the couple was moved around a few times in the early stages of their captivity, their location had remained static for some time and Joint Special Operations Command were getting ready to embark on a rescue, when ultimately the Pakistanis — fearing another national upstaging and embarrassment akin to the bin Laden raid in 2011 which exposed them as harboring major terrorists — took the reign.

“This was presented as an opportunity to clear up their bad name. Trump was about to cut off funding and the Pakistanis knew it,” another source said.

The mission came at a time when U.S.-Pakistan relations had hit a low point, with President Trump threatening to withdraw aid money and accusing the country of harboring militants. On Friday, nonetheless, Trump praised Pakistan for its “cooperation of many fronts,” and tweeted about how the two nations were developing “a much better relationship.” In a video message filmed shortly after her liberation, and posted by the Pakistani military, Boyle profusely thanked them for their “tremendously professional operation.” The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad also publicly expressed their “deep gratitude” to the Pakistani government and its army — and subsequently Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria since has stated that the rescue demonstrates that Pakistan will act against “a common enemy” when the U.S. shares information.

But Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, pointed out that Pakistan has a “long history of providing a sacrificial lamb to the U.S. during times when relations are at a low point.”

“After Trump’s speech that all but labeled Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, Pakistan has been desperate to change the narrative. The operation to free Coleman, Boyle and their children gives Pakistani officials all the ammunition they need to claim they are partners with the U.S. against jihadists,” he said. “In the short-term, the Trump administration will be buoyed by the operation, but the real proof will be how the Pakistanis deal with Taliban leaders and fighters based inside Pakistan.”

Joshua Boyle_AP

Joshua Boyle after being rescued last week.  (AP)

However, the U.S. plan is said to have gone somewhat awry following the rescue, after Boyle refused to board a U.S. military aircraft flown out especially to collect the family with a military hostage team onboard. The C-130 was scheduled to stop at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, but Boyle reportedly freaked out, fearing detainee abuse at the hands of the U.S. The rescued family thus were then flown on a commercial airliner from Pakistan to London and then to Canada.

But their refusal to use the military resources and travel to the United States, according to a source familiar with the operation, has broader implications as it also means that they essentially waive their “reintegration” rights.

“The goal was to ensure they were debriefed, information obtained and that they were carefully repatriated into society after all these years with the right psychological help,” the insider explained.

The U.S. has in place a three-phase “reintegration” process for rescued hostages, which involves medical exams, structured operational and intelligence debriefings from officials, and professional psychological help. But in refusing the U.S. help, the source says, it means that not returnees are not subject to providing highly sought-after intelligence pertaining to the inner-workings of the terrorist outfit.

Several other Americans remain in Haqqani captivity in the region, and thus it now remains unclear if and when U.S. officials will be able to glean further intelligence on the status of fellow westerners from the newly released couple.

The Department of Defense declined to comment on the reintegration issue, and the U.S. State Department and FBI did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

PAKISTAN OFFICIALS ADAMANT THAT ‘HERO’ DOCTOR WHO HELPED CAPTURE USAMA BIN LADEN REMAIN BEHIND BARS

TALIBAN USING RAPE, BLACKMAIL TO RECRUIT YOUNG TERRORISTS

Yet the in wake of his rescue and refusal to board the U.S military aircraft, Boyle’s background and connections, and the reasons why he lead his pregnant wife to a warzone in the first place also has become a source of speculation.

Soon after marrying in 2011, Coleman and Boyle embarked on a hiking expedition, going first to Russia and Central Asia. Although pregnant with their first child, in 2012, the couple decided then to go hiking in Afghanistan’s dangerous, militia-teeming Wardak Province.

hostages

Newly married Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman shortly before heading to Afghanistan where they were held captive for five years.  (Coleman family)

Before Coleman, Boyle was married to Zaynab Khadr, the oldest sister of Omar Khadr, a Canadian alleged to have Al Qaeda ties. He was arrested by U.S. forces in 2002 and held at Guantanamo Bay for 10 years. Zaynab’s late father Ahmed Said Khadr is believed to have been a prominent Al Qaeda financier who personally stayed with Osama bin Laden.

But since his release, Boyle has stated that he was a “pilgrim” who was in Afghanistan initially to help villagers “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.”

FILE - In this June 4, 2014, file photo, from left, Patrick Boyle, Linda Boyle, Lyn Coleman and Jim Coleman hold photo of their kidnapped children, Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman, who were kidnapped by the Taliban in late 2012, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Stewartstown, Pa.  Pakistan's military says soldiers have recovered five Western hostages held by the Taliban for years. Pakistan's army did not name those held, only saying it worked with U.S. intelligence officials to track down the hostages and free them after discovering they had been brought into Pakistan.  (AP Photo/Bill Gorman, File)

Patrick Boyle, Linda Boyle, Lyn Coleman and Jim Coleman holding a photo of their kidnapped children, Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman, in 2014.  (AP Photo/Bill Gorman, File)

The U.S. Department of Justice has said that neither Boyle or Coleman are wanted for any federal crime, and sources who worked closely on their release said that there was no reason to suspect them of any terrorist ties.

“Joshua may have thought he had a deeper understanding of these terror groups than he did, he may have thought that if anything bad happened he would have the ability to get them out of it,” a U.S source explained.

Sources located on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border also told Fox News that the family did become known to influential tribesman in the area, and the narrative floated was that they were Christian missionaries who were at first abducted by a criminal enterprise after meeting with Afghan villagers, and were then sold Haqqani. At first the demands for their release were financial, but likely emboldened by the release terms of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, in which five Taliban prisoners were exchanged for the deserted U.S soldier, the terror outfit then switched tactics and instead insisted on the release of at least five prominent prisoners being detained by the Afghan government, sources in both the U.S. and Afghanistan said.

Dec. 8, 2010: This file image provided by IntelCenter shows a framegrab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, left. (AP/Intel Center)

Framegrab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was also held captive by the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network.  (AP/Intel Center)

Upon touching down in Toronto on Friday, Boyle claimed that they would have had four children born into captivity, but that their Haqqani captors killed one of their infant daughters and raped his wife during their five-year ordeal.

“The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani network’s kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter,” he said.

The Taliban, which has become closely linked to the Haqqani operations in the past couple of years, since has denied both the allegations of assault and murder, insisting that Coleman “naturally miscarried” one of the four children. However, a U.S. source told Fox News that they received information several years ago that indicated Coleman was indeed the victim of sexual assault, and may have been forced to undergo an abortion.

“They went through hell,” the source added. “And there are still many more that need to come home.”

The Pakistani Embassy in Washington D.C. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

ARTICLE CREDITED TO TEXAS MONTHLY: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Guilty Plea

Three months after police found dozens of immigrants—eight already dead—trapped in a hot trailer in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot, the truck driver pleaded guilty to smuggling. James Bradley Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death on Monday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The 61-year-old faces up to life in prison, and will be sentenced by a federal judge in January. A total of 39 undocumented immigrants were found inside the trailer on July 23. In addition to the eight found dead at the scene, two more people later died from heat-related injuries. The deceased were from Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Immigrants later told investigators that anywhere from 70 to 200 people were crowded into the hot trailer, with only one small vent for air.

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Russia Probe: Senate Asks Mike Flynn’s Son for Documents, Testimony

Article credited to NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com

Russia Probe: Senate Asks Mike Flynn’s Son for Documents, Testimony

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested documents and testimony from Michael G. Flynn, the son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, but has not received a response, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The committee, which is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, is interested in Flynn’s work as his father’s aide and travel companion with Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn formed after he left government service, the sources said.

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the intelligence committee chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner, of Virginia the ranking Democrat, declined to comment when asked about the matter Monday by NBC News.

Michael G. Flynn’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, declined to comment.

Image: Michael G. Flynn during at an RT event with his father Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn in Moscow in 2015
Michael G. Flynn during an RT event with his father Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn in Moscow in 2015. RT

The younger Flynn, 34, accompanied his father on a 2015 trip to Moscow, where the elder Flynn sat next to Vladimir Putin at a dinner to celebrate Russia’s state-funded media network, RT. The younger Flynn can be seen in video from an associated event.

Ultimately, the committee could issue a subpoena to Flynn if he doesn’t comply, but he could assert his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

NBC News reported last month that the younger Flynn is a subject of the criminal and counterintelligence investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is also interested in Flynn’s work with his father’s consulting business.

Flynn responded on Twitter to the NBC News report, tweeting on Sept. 14: “I’m not the sub of any federal investigation.”

The elder Flynn was fired as Trump’s national security adviser in February after it became public that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in Washington.

You’re still  and a wimp for blocking me…I’m not the sub of any federal investigation…idiots like u believe everything u read.. https://twitter.com/funder/status/908080674183241728 

A former business associate of Michael Flynn’s said the younger Flynn played an important role in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father’s chief of staff.

Those responsibilities included attending meetings with his father and communicating with prospective clients, the former business associate said.

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Kaepernick, Trump need to unify US on ‘national anthem,’ ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer pens in open letter

Kaepernick, Trump need to unify US on ‘national anthem,’ ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer pens in open letter

NFL player Nate Boyer, the former Green Beret who made headlines a year ago when he wrote an open letter to Colin Kaepernick about his national anthem protest, is calling on the quarterback and President Trump to unite the country.

“Wait..what? I know it sounds crazy, but maybe that’s exactly what we need to see,” Boyer wrote in a letter published by ESPN Friday. “Maybe that’s how we start to heal. Two men sit in a room and talk, simple as that.”

His call came as NFL players continued to protest during the national anthem in Week 6.

Boyer wrote the new letter to “every single American,” and said that included Kaepernick, Trump and his “brothers in arms overseas who are wondering ‘what in the hell is going on back there?’”

He went on to say that he is hurt more now than last year because it seems like “we just hate each other.”

“Today it feels like this national divide isn’t even really about the anthem, or the flag, or kneeling, or sitting, or fists in the air. It’s not about President Donald Trump, it’s not about Colin Kaepernick, it’s not about the military, or even police brutality. It feels like it’s about winning. That’s what makes America so great, our sheer competitiveness. We’re winners, and we won’t quit until victory is ours.”

He said he sat down with five Special Operations vets and discussed the NFL flag protests.

TRUMP SAYS ‘ABOUT TIME’ AFTER NFL’S GOODELL CALLS ON PLAYERS TO STAND FOR ANTHEM

They all agreed Kaepernick and Trump “should be the ones uniting our country together.”

“That’s how it all started with Colin and I, neither of us knew that kneeling would be the result of our conversation,” Boyer wrote. “Colin wanted to sit, I wanted him to stand, and so we found a common ground on a knee alongside his teammates. I believe that progress and real change happens in this world when you reach across the divide, you build a bridge, you swallow your pride, you open your mind, you embrace what you don’t understand, and ultimately you surrender.

He added: “I would love for those two leaders to have that conversation, but more than anything I just want us to love one another again. One great thing about freedom is that you get to choose every day how you treat your neighbor. This IS the best country in the world, but we can always do better.”

Kaepernick said last year that he was refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

Boyer wrote the open letter to Kaepernick in August 2016 in the Army Times. The letter led to Boyer having a talk with Kaepernick. After that meeting, Kaepernick began kneeling during his protests rather than sitting.

Boyer, who played a pre-season game with the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper and then was released by the team, wrote in his letter in the Army Times in August 2016 that he was not judging Kaepernick for protesting the anthem.

“It’s your inalienable right,” he wrote. “What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes.”

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL’S WIFE USED SECRET TWITTER ACCOUNT TO DEFEND HUSBAND

After writing the letter, Boyer then met Kaepernick.

Trump began feuding with the NFL in September after asking at a political rally in Alabama: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to teams calling on players to “honor our flag” and stand for the national anthem.

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At least 276 killed in Somalia’s deadliest attack on record

At least 276 killed in Somalia’s deadliest attack on record

The death toll has risen to 276, with more than 300 people wounded, after a truck bombing in Somalia that the U.S. government condemned Sunday as a “cowardly” attack.

“Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism,” the U.S. mission to Somalia said in a statement.

The U.S. military this year has stepped up drone strikes and other efforts this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and often targets Mogadishu, the capital.

None of the roughly 400 U.S. troops in Somalia were hurt in the attack, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command told Fox News.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said four volunteers with the Somali Red Crescent Society were among the dead.

A statement Sunday said “this figure may rise as there are a number of volunteers still missing.”

Hospitals in Mogadishu struggled Sunday to cope with the high number of deaths and injuries, security and medical sources said.

Ambulance sirens echoed across the city a day after the blast as bewildered families wandered in the rubble of buildings, looking for missing relatives.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning and joined thousands of people who responded to a desperate plea by hospitals to donate blood for the wounded victims. “I am appealing all Somali people to come forward and donate,” he said.

Many victims died at hospitals from their wounds, said Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

Abshir Abdi Ahmed, a senator, announced the number injured, citing doctors at hospitals he has visited in Mogadishu.

Somalia’s government has blamed the Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group for the attack it called a “national disaster.” However, al-Shabab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital with bombings, had yet to comment.

“They don’t care about the lives of Somali people, mothers, fathers and children,” Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said. “They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians.”

Somalia’s information minister, Abdirahman Omar, said the blast was the largest the city had ever seen. “It’s a sad day. This how merciless and brutal they are, and we have to unite against them,” he said, speaking to the state-run radio station.

Overnight, rescue workers with torch lights searched for any survivors trapped under the rubble of the Safari Hotel, which was largely destroyed. The hotel is close to Somalia’s foreign ministry. The blast blew off metal gates and blast walls erected outside the hotel.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

[Read More]

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

ARTICLE CREDITED TO TEXAS MONTHLY: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Soaring ‘Stros

The Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees in the first two games of the American League Championship Series over the weekend, winning both games 2-1. Houston’s starting pitchers dominated the formidable Yankees batters, with Dallas Keuchel striking out ten in seven scoreless innings to lead the Astros to the win on Friday, and Justin Verlander following up on Saturday by scattering five hits and one run over nine innings while striking out a whopping thirteen Yankees (all while Verlander’s fiancée, supermodel Kate Upton, watched with glee). As expected, the Astros’ offense has been led by second baseman and AL MVP candidate Jose Altuve, who has gone 5-for-8 so far in the series. That includes scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday on a double by Carlos Correa. The Astros head to New York Monday night for game three of the best-of-seven series.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthy.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Big Money

The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill giving $36.5 billion in aid to areas affected by recent disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, after some concern earlier this week about whether Texas’s delegation would not vote to approve the measure because it didn’t earmark enough funding for the state’s Harvey recovery. According to the Texas Tribune, some Texas congressional members felt the Lone Star State was neglected in the bill in favor of hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico and California, which is dealing with deadly wildfires right now. The delegation sent a letter to congressional leadership last week requesting $18.7 billion in aid for Harvey alone. The exclusion of those specific funds caused some tension, and Governor Greg Abbott even called out the Texas delegation for not fighting hard enough to secure the money. But the bill did take two big steps for aid in Texas: It set aside $18.7 billion for FEMA’s main relief fund, and cancelled $16 billion in debt owed by the National Flood Insurance Program, from which thousands of Texans are expecting payouts after Harvey. Every Democrat in the House voted for the bill, which passed 353-69 and will head to the Senate next. Six Texas Republicans voted against it: U.S. Representatives Joe Barton of Ennis, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, Kenny Marchant of Coppell, John Ratcliffe of Heath, and Roger Williams of Austin.

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ISIS recruiter ‘White Widow’ believed dead after US strike in Syria

ISIS recruiter ‘White Widow’ believed dead after US strike in Syria

Jones, 50, a mother of two, who used to be a punk rock artist but later converted to Islam and fled to Syria to become a top recruiter for the Islamic State group, was reportedly killed in June during a drone strike near the border between Syria and Iraq.

“The Americans zapped her trying to get away from Raqqa. Quite frankly, it’s good riddance,” a British source familiar with the strike told the Sun, which first reported Jones’ death.

Sally Jones ISIS burka

An alleged photograph of Jones in an Islamic veil and holding AK-47.  (Twitter)

Jones followed the same fate as her husband, Junaid Hussain, who died in an airstrike in 2015 as part of a larger campaign against ISIS. She and her husband were occasionally called “Mr. and Mrs. Terror” and were linked to numerous terror plots.

Jones’ 12-year-old son Jojo was also believed to have been killed in the strike. “The premise that Sally Jones and her son are dead is probably accurate,” an unnamed British official told the Times of London.

Sally Jones ISIS band

Jones once was in a punk rock band.  (YouTube)

The woman reportedly used her son as a human shield during skirmishes with anti-ISIS forces. She was last seen fleeing Raqqa following the liberation by U.S-backed military forces, the Sun reported.

Jones was top ISIS recruiter of female jihadists and was reportedly high on the U.S. “kill list” as she was considered a high-value target. She targeted young girls, trying to lure them into Syria to become jihadi brides, and used social media to threaten attacks on Britain.

Her son was not targeted by the U.S. military strike and was not considered a combatant. According to the Times, his mother, however, used him in a propaganda video, where he was seen shooting an ISIS hostage in the back of the head.

[Read More]

Man charged in 4 shootings, including death of Scout worker

Article credited to WTOP News: http://www.wtop.com

Man charged in 4 shootings, including death of Scout worker

This undated booking photo provided by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office shows Ryan Sharpe. Authorities in Louisiana have arrested Sharpe in connection with multiple shootings since July in the same area, including a Boy Scout employee who was shot…

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana have arrested a man in connection with four shootings since July in the same area, including a Boy Scout employee who was shot and killed Monday near the camp where he worked.

The Advocate reports that authorities announced during a news conference Wednesday night that 36-year-old Ryan Sharpe of Clinton will be charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux would not comment on a motive in the shootings or say whether the suspect knew the victims.

In the most recent shooting, 48-year-old Brad DeFranceschi was shot multiple times about 11:15 a.m. Monday in front of his house on camp property, East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis said.

___

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Impeachment Papers

U.S. Representative Al Green, a Democrat from Houston, introduced formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on the House floor on Wednesday, according to the Texas Tribune. He didn’t get enough support from his own party after reading the impeachment papers, so he didn’t appear back on the House floor to call the resolution to a vote. Green later told reporters that he wanted to give his fellow members of Congress additional time to review the resolution before a vote, though some House Democrats told the Tribune that Green was actively pressured to stop his impeachment plans. As the Washington Post notes, some House Democrats want to let ongoing investigations into Trump’s campaign and administration resolve before moving to impeach. According to the Washington Post, the GOP was more than happy to schedule a vote—so they could kill it. Green apparently wants to impeach Trump as soon as possible, though. “[Trump] has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute onto the presidency, has betrayed his trust as president to the manifest injury of the people of the United States of America, and as a result is unfit to be president,” Green said, according to the Tribune. “He warrants impeachment, trial, and removal from office.”

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Campus Shooting

More details have emerged after a campus police officer was fatally shot at Texas Tech on Monday night. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the officer has been identified as Floyd East Jr. Police said on Tuesdayafternoon that they were initially contacted because the suspect, nineteen-year-old freshman Hollis Alvin Daniels III, may have had a weapon. East took Daniels into custody for possession of a controlled substance following a student welfare check, and was shot in the head while he was completing the booking paperwork for the arrest. Daniels wasn’t handcuffed. “A .45-caliber RP shell casing was located near Officer East,” the report says. “[The secondary officer on scene] also advised Officer East’s police body camera was missing and Officer East’s pistol was in his holster.” Daniels apparently comes from a well-known family in his native Seguin. His father is a former city councilman and his mother is a travel writer, and they own the Palace Theatre in downtown Seguin, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

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