Report: Two Navy SEALs eyed in strangulation of Green Beret in Mali

Article credited to Fox News:

Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.


Report: Two Navy SEALs eyed in strangulation of Green Beret in Mali

Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar.  (Photo released by Army Special Operations Command)

[Read More]

An Entire Rhino Herd Decimated By Greedy Poachers Who Even Took What’s Left Of The Ones Already Dehorned

Article credited to WAN:


An Entire Rhino Herd Decimated By Greedy Poachers Who Even Took What’s Left Of The Ones Already Dehorned


Lauren Lewis

Herald Live

More heartbreaking news from the Eastern Cape of South Africa as WAN learns that an entire breeding herd of rhinos has been shot and killed during two separate attacks on the same private game reserve in the past three weeks. [Read More]

Clinton mum on Fusion GPS scandal as Dems’ dossier denials pile up

Clinton mum on Fusion GPS scandal as Dems’ dossier denials pile up

The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee paid more than $9 million to a law firm that, in turn, retained the political consultants who commissioned the now-infamous Trump dossier.

But nobody at the top is copping to knowing a thing about it.

Hillary Clinton is conspicuously silent on the new revelations, while Clinton World gives mixed messages about her knowledge. Her top campaign spokesman says “she may have known,” while an anonymous source is telling reporters she only learned about the dossier after BuzzFeed News published it early this year.

‘[Clinton] may have known, but the degree of exactly what she knew is beyond my knowledge.’

– Ex-Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon

“I don’t know what she knew or did not know,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, adding: “I would find it pretty interesting if her campaign was making decisions at that level that she didn’t know about.”

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he can’t believe Clinton or a top official like then-campaign chairman John Podesta was not aware.

“You don’t lay out that kind of money in a campaign unless you know” how and why it’s being spent, he told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

Clinton, though, hasn’t personally spoken up, and the rest of the Democratic brass are treating the dossier like a freelance project gone rogue.

A spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who led the DNC at the time, told Fox News on Wednesday that, “She did not have any knowledge of this arrangement.”

A DNC official stressed that current Chairman “Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization.”

In a carefully worded response, former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told CNN on Wednesday that he didn’t personally know – but left the door open as to his boss’s awareness.

Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks before introducing Vice President Joe Biden at a meeting with Jewish community leaders at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Fla., Sept. 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

A spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the former DNC chair had “no knowledge” of the arrangement with Fusion GPS.  (Reuters)

“I don’t know. I haven’t asked. I haven’t spoken to her,” Fallon said. “She may have known, but the degree of exactly what she knew is beyond my knowledge.”


The Washington Post reported this week — and Fox News confirmed — that the political consulting firm Fusion GPS was retained last year by Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The firm then hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the now-infamous dossier.

Seeking to clarify who knew what when, Fallon suggested on CNN that the campaign could have cleared the law firm to commission “some kind of research” – but as for the decision to retain Fusion GPS and Steele, Clinton “may or may not have been aware.”

The controversial dossier contained unverified and lurid allegations about dirt the Russians had on then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible connections to Moscow.

Trump has long denied the claims, and he and his allies are now trying to turn the tables on Democrats who have alleged Trump-Russia collusion during the campaign.

“They’re embarrassed by it, but I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

But Fallon, seeing the coverage of his own remarks on CNN, pushed back on Republicans highlighting his suggestion that Clinton might have known about the dossier.

“So what if she did? Looking forward to the RNC reaction when the identity of the GOP funder comes out,” he tweeted, in reference to reports that an unnamed Republican client paid for the research before the Democrats stepped in.

Fallon has remained defiant over the revelations, comparing the project to the kind of “oppo research” that “happens on every campaign.” In a statement, he said, “here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election.”

But the developments could raise legal problems

The Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission accusing the DNC and Clinton’s campaign committee of breaking campaign finance law by failing to accurately disclose the money spent on the Trump-Russia dossier.

“Questions about who paid for this dossier are the subject of intense public interest, and this is precisely the information that FEC reports are supposed to provide,” Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center said in a statement to Fox News.

According to the Post, that money was routed from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law firm Perkins Coie and described on FEC reports as legal services.

But the Campaign Legal Center described the FEC reporting as “misleading.”

“Payments by a campaign or party committee to an opposition research firm are legal, as long as those payments are accurately disclosed,” Fischer said. “But describing payments for opposition research as ‘legal services’ is entirely misleading and subverts the reporting requirements.”

Fox News’ Judson Berger, Brooke Singman, Alex Pappas and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report. 

Sponsored Stories You May Like

[Read More]

Fusion GPS fallout: DNC, Clinton, FBI take heat after bombshell that Dems funded Trump dossier

Fusion GPS fallout: DNC, Clinton, FBI take heat after bombshell that Dems funded Trump dossier

The bombshell revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the controversial anti-Trump dossier last year has lawmakers and the media asking tough questions about how the dubious document was used by the highest levels of U.S. law enforcement – and why Democrats “lied” about its origins.

In the midst of a court case that threatened to reveal the dossier’s funding, it emerged overnight that political consulting firm Fusion GPS was retained last year by Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The firm then hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the now-infamous dossier.

The Washington Post first reported on the connections, which were confirmed by Fox News.


Not only did the Clinton campaign and DNC fund the firm through the end of October 2016, but the FBI reportedly arranged to pay Steele to proceed with intelligence gathering on Trump and Russia after Trump’s election. That deal was later nixed after the former intelligence officer was identified in news reports.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Wednesday that his biggest questions concern to what extent the FBI relied on that document to launch its Russia probe.

“My focus has always been whether or not the Department of Justice and the FBI relied upon an unsourced CI document to launch a counterintelligence investigation,” he told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “I want to know whether the nation’s premier law enforcement agency relied on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it. … And if they relied upon an unsourced, un-vetted document to launch a really important investigation … then I think our country is big enough to handle that truth.”

He noted that representatives with Fusion GPS pleaded the Fifth in a Capitol Hill appearance last week.

“Usually people plead the Fifth when they think the answer’s going to get them in trouble,” he said.

Further, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at a Washington, D.C., event on Wednesday that the FBI has been “stonewalling” Congress’ request for documents, voicing frustration about learning this information through the media.

“The FBI needs to comply with the documents request that Congress has on their desk right now and they need to do it immediately,” Ryan said.

The controversial dossier contained unverified and lurid allegations about dirt the Russians had on Trump and his campaign’s possible connections to Moscow.

Perkins Coie was paid $5.6 million in legal fees by the Clinton campaign in a time period ranging from June 2015 to December 2016, The Post reported, citing campaign finance records. The DNC also paid the firm $3.6 million for “legal and compliance consulting” going back to November 2015.

Sources told The Post that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC specifically directed Steele’s work, labeling the intelligence officer simply as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

But after the Post story broke, reporters with The New York Times blasted Elias and others on Twitter, accusing them of denying the connection for months.

“When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel tweeted.

“Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,” Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted.

Former Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon boasted on Twitter that, while he didn’t know about Steele’s hiring before the election, “If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.”

He added, “I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent.”

But he defended Elias on the issue of whether he denied the funding connection, tweeting: “Dont know what Elias may have said but if he was coy, he was prob just being a good lawyer honoring confidentiality.”

Haberman countered: “’coy’ is not responding at all. ‘Your sources are wrong’ is a bit different.”

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, stressed that only that the current leadership was not involved in the arrangement.

“Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. “But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”

[Read More]

 Family of soldier killed in Niger wants to know if ‘mistakes were made’

Article credited to ABC News: 
Family of soldier killed in Niger wants to know if ‘mistakes were made’
US Army

The brother of Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, one of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Nigerearlier this month, said he wants to know if the military may have made mistakes that ultimately led to his brother’s death.

Interested in Niger Attack?

Add Niger Attack as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Niger Attack news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Add Interest

“Even with adequate resources, a fully manned team and armored vehicles, these brave men would have been lucky to exit this situation with their lives,” Will Wright said in a statement released on Tuesday. “Our hope through this tragedy is to discern where, if any, mistakes were made and to fix them going forward.”

The statement came just hours after the Defense Department, which is investigating the Oct. 4 attack, provided the first official timeline of the events that led up to the ambush.

PHOTO: A soldier stands on the border of Niger. (file photo)Jerome Delay/AP, file photo
A soldier stands on the border of Niger. (file photo)

Wright, 29, and three other U.S. soldiers — Sgt. La David Johnson, 25; Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35 and Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson 39 — were killed after their unit came in contact with a larger unit of local tribal fighters associated with ISIS, according the department.

Five Nigerien partner troops were also killed in the confrontation, the department said.

In a Monday briefing, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he still had major questions about the “tough firefight,” such as whether the unit’s mission changed at the last minute and if the troops had adequate intelligence, equipment and training.

PHOTO: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. answers questions during a Pentagon briefing, May 19, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. answers questions during a Pentagon briefing, May 19, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.more +

“We owe you more information; more importantly, we owe the families of the fallen more information, and that’s what the investigation is designed to identify,”” Dunford said. “Did the mission change? It’s a fair question.”

Wright’s family said it is aware of the DoD’s ongoing investigation and “anxiously anticipated the release of more information regarding the attack.”

“We will wait patiently and work with our government and military, not against them, to find answers,” Will Wright said, speaking on behalf of his family. “In short, nothing that comes from this report will bring our Warriors back, but it can help to educate and prepare future Operators to better combat our enemies.”

“We do not blame the Army or the President; war is hell, and even the best laid plans go to the wayside when the first bullet flies,” he added.

ABC News’ Matt Foster contributed to this report.

[Read More]

Gretchen Carlson condemns Fox News for resigning Bill O’Reilly after he settled $32 million harassment lawsuit 

Article credited to NY Daily Times:

Gretchen Carlson condemns Fox News for resigning Bill O’Reilly after he settled $32 million harassment lawsuit

      Carlson said the latest news was "horrifying and outrageous," shaming Fox News for allowing O'Reilly back on the air.

      Carlson said the latest news was “horrifying and outrageous,” shaming Fox News for allowing O’Reilly back on the air.


      Carlson slammed her former network a day after The New York Times reported executives were aware of the settlement when it re-signed the since-fired O’Reilly in February to a four-year, $100 million deal.

      “It’s horrifying and outrageous that any company, after dismissing somebody for allegations such as that, would not only re-sign a contract but allow that person to come back on the air,” Carlson told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” during an appearance Sunday.

      Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst for Fox News, claimed O’Reilly would message her sexually explicit material, including gay pornography — and was pushed into a sexual relationship with him, the Times reported. She was fired by Fox News in April after 15 years as an analyst.

      Bill O’Reilly paid $32M to accuser before Fox extended contract

      O’Reilly wrapped up the allegations this past January just 15 days after the lawsuit was drafted.

      The reported $32 million payout to Wiehl is steeper than the $20 million paid out to Carlson, who sued Fox News in July 2016, alleging founding CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her.

      Ailes later parted ways with Fox News — with a golden parachute worth tens of millions of dollars — and died this May.

      Carlson, who’s gone on to pen a book about sexual harassment, condemned companies for settling claims or building arbitration clauses into an employee’s contract in case a legal issue arose.

      Bill O’Reilly returns to Fox News as Sean Hannity guest

      “This is covering up, this is enablers, this is shutting up the victims,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely horrifying that we’ve allowed this to go on for so long in our corporate culture.”

      Carlson continued that it created a false sense of security.

      “We’re fooling society into thinking that we don’t have a problem with this issue anymore,” she told CNN. “Why? Because we don’t hear about these cases.”


      O’Reilly reportedly settled a $32 million lawsuit, which the network was aware of when it resigned him earlier this year.


      She said the numerous women who have come forward against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was a sign women are standing up against harassment.

      Bill O’Reilly to be a guest on Sean Hannity’s show Tuesday

      “That is what’s been so heartening over the last couple of weeks, seeing the Weinstein story develop and so many others, is that women are saying, ‘We’re not going to be silenced anymore,” she said. “We are going to be fierce.”

      Fox News representatives didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Carlson’s remarks.

      O’Reilly was among a handful of high-profile personalities to be accused of sexual harassment at the network. In September, Fox News host Eric Bolling was fired after being accused of sending sexually explicit photos to three female colleagues.

      Fox News nudged O’Reilly out in April after a bombshell report he settled lawsuits with five accusers over the years, totaling $13 million. Multiple advertisers started to pull out of his top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor.”

      Bill O’Reilly plays to thousands of empty seats in Baltimore

      He briefly returned to Fox News in late September, when he was a guest on Sean Hannity’s show.

      [Read More]

      Breaking News: 5 children and their mother killed in house fire north of Silsbee

      Article credited to:

      Breaking News: 5 children and their mother killed in house fire north of Silsbee

      A house fire north of Silsbee has killed five children and their mother, according to information Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis provided to KFDM News.

      Davis tells KFDM there’s no evidence of foul play at this point but the investigation is just getting underway.

      The victims include the five children, ranging in age from 3 to 11, and their mother, according to the Sheriff. Two of the children were twins

      The family’s pastor, Randy Feldschau, tells KFDM Ashley Pickering, 31, died in the fire. It also claimed the lives of her children: Camden, 3; twins Cash and Cavence, 4 (they would have celebrated their 5th birthdays next week); Serenity, 7 (the only girl among the children); Cristian, 11.

      From Ashley’s FB PAGE: “Cristian, Serenity, Cavence, Cash, and Camden are my life… Anything else is irrelevant.”

      Davis tells KFDM News the first fire alarm was reported at about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday morning in a small apartment behind a home on Fountain Drive.

      The structure was engulfed in flames when firefighters from Silsbee arrived and the structure was destroyed.

      Once firefighters put out the flames they found the six bodies inside.

      The grandparents of the children live in the main home and the mother and children lived in the apartment behind the house, according to the Sheriff. He says the father doesn’t live there but came to the scene when he was notified.

      The cause is under investigation and a justice of the peace has ordered autopsies.

      “This is a horrific scene, very somber, very sad,” Sheriff Davis told KFDM News. “Your heart goes out to the family, the immediate family and the extended family. It’s tough on everyone, including the first responders. It tears your heart out. It’s the worst type of incident for any firefighter or first responder to face, to find victims inside.”

      Sheriff Davis says a neighbor called 911 and reported seeing flames from the structure. He woke up the grandparents in the main home but there was nothing they could do because the apartment was fully engulfed, said Davis.

      The family belongs to Cathedral in the Pines church in Beaumont.

      The sheriff is withholding their names at this point.

      “We’re talking with witnesses, anyone who may have seen anything,” said Davis. “We’re investigating the cause. We’ll look at everything here and try to determine the origin of the fire and also other issues, things that would be relevant to the fire investigation.”

      Two of the children attended school in the Silsbee ISD. The district released the following statement:

      “Silsbee ISD is deeply saddened to learn the news of a family in Silsbee that lost their lives in a house fire. News of this nature is not easy by any means, especially in our close-knit community. We offer prayers to those close to the family and our first responders as they cope with this devastating tragedy. We have learned two children lost in this fire were students at Silsbee ISD, and our staff will be offering support to the campuses as needed. Silsbee ISD will ensure that our students and staff will be comforted during this difficult time.”

      Astronomers strike gold, witness massive cosmic collision


      Astronomers strike gold, witness massive cosmic collision

      It was a faint signal, but it told of one of the most violent acts in the universe, and it would soon reveal secrets of the cosmos, including how gold was created.

      Forbes estimated that the collision created an estimated $10 octillion in gold, which is $10 billion, billion, billion.

      What they witnessed in mid-August and revealed Monday was the long-ago collision of two neutron stars — a phenomenon California Institute of Technology’s David H. Reitze called “the most spectacular fireworks in the universe.”

      The crash happened 130 million years ago, while dinosaurs still roamed on Earth, but the signal didn’t arrive on Earth until Aug. 17 after traveling 130 million light-years. A light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.

      “We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” said University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley.

      Measurements of the light and other energy emanating from the crash have helped scientists explain how planet-killing gamma ray bursts are born, how fast the universe is expanding, and where heavy elements like platinum and gold come from.

      “This is getting everything you wish for,” said Syracuse University physics professor Duncan Brown, one of more than 4,000 scientists involved in the blitz of science that the crash kicked off. “This is our fantasy observation.”

      It started in a galaxy called NGC 4993, seen from Earth in the Hydra constellation. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh 1 billion tons, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided, said Carnegie Institution astronomer Maria Drout.

      The crash, called a kilonova, generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Albert Einstein.

      Signals were picked up within 1.7 seconds of each other, by NASA’s Fermi telescope, which detects gamma rays, and gravity wave detectors in Louisiana and Washington state that are a part of the LIGO Laboratory , whose founders won a Nobel Prize earlier this month. A worldwide alert went out to focus telescopes on what became the most well-observed astronomical event in history.

      Before August, the only other gravity waves detected by LIGO were generated by colliding black holes. But black holes let no light escape, so astronomers could see nothing.

      Finding where the crash happened wasn’t easy. Eventually scientists narrowed the location buy flagyl for humans down to 100 galaxies, began a closer search of those, and found it in the ninth galaxy they looked at.

      It is like “the classic challenge of finding a needle in the haystack with the added challenge that the needle is fading away and the haystack is moving,” said Marcelle Soares-Santos, an astrophysicist at Brandeis University.

      “The completeness of this picture from the beginning to the end is unprecedented,” said Columbia University physics professor Szabolcs Marka. “There are many, many extraordinary discoveries within the discovery.”

      The colliding stars spewed bright blue, super-hot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected neutron star collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren’t certain until they witnessed it.

      “We see the gold being formed,” said Syracuse’s Brown.

      Calculations from a telescope measuring ultraviolet light showed that the combined mass of the heavy elements from this explosion is 1,300 times the mass of Earth. And all that stuff — including lighter elements — was thrown out in all different directions and is now speeding across the universe.

      Perhaps one day the material will clump together into planets the way ours was formed, Reitze said — maybe ones with rich veins of precious metals.

      The crash also helped explain the origins of one of the most dangerous forces of the cosmos — short gamma ray bursts, focused beams of radiation that could erase life on any planet that happened to get in the way. These bursts shoot out in two different directions perpendicular to where the two neutron stars first crash, Reitze said.

      Luckily for us, the beams of gamma rays were not focused on Earth and were generated too far away to be a threat, he said.

      Scientists knew that the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. By using LIGO to measure gravitational waves while watching this event unfold, researchers came up with a new estimate for how fast that is happening, the so-called Hubble Constant. Before this, scientists came up with two slightly different answers using different techniques. The rough figure that came out of this event is between the original two, Reitze said.

      The first optical images showed a bright blue dot that was very hot, which was likely the start of the heavy element creation process amid the neutron star debris, Drout said. After a day or two that blue faded, becoming much fainter and redder. And after three weeks it was completely gone, she said.

      This almost didn’t happen. Eight days after the signal came through, the LIGO gravitational waves were shut down for a year’s worth of planned upgrades. A month later the whole area where the crash happened would have been blocked from astronomers’ prying eyes by the sun.

      Scientists involved with the search for gravitational waves said this was the event they had prepared for over more than 20 years.

      The findings are “of spectacular importance,” said Penn State physicist Abhay Ashtekar, who wasn’t part of the research. “This is really brand new.”

      Almost all of the discoveries confirmed existing theories, but had not been proven — an encouraging result for theorists who have been trying to explain what is happening in the cosmos, said France Cordova, an astrophysicist who directs the National Science Foundation.

      “We so far have been unable to prove Einstein wrong,” said Georgia Tech physics professor Laura Cadonati. “But we’re going to keep trying.”

      The Associated Press contributed to this report


      [Read More]

      Bowe Bergdahl expected to plead guilty in desertion case

      Bowe Bergdahl expected to plead guilty in desertion case

      Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is set to plead guilty Monday to charges he endangered comrades by walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 — the court case wrapping up just three years after a stunning Rose Garden spectacle in which former President Barack Obama, flanked by Bergdahl’s parents, triumphantly announced the soldier’s release from captivity.

      Bergdahl was released in May 2014 after a highly-criticized deal in which five Taliban terrorists were set free. At the time, Obama administration officials said Bergdahl had “served with honor and distinction.”

      U.S. President Barack Obama (R) watches as Jami Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl talk about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, during a statement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington May 31, 2014. Obama, flanked by the parents of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who is being released after being held for nearly five years by the Taliban, said in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday that the United States has an "ironclad commitment" to bring home its prisoners of war. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - GM1EA610J6201

      Former President Barack Obama, right, watches as Bob Bergdahl and Jami Bergdahl discuss the release of their son, Bowe Bergdaghl.  (Reuters)

      The U.S. Army said Bergdahl asked to enter his plea before the military judge at Fort Bragg. The Associated Press previously reported that he’s expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

      It’s not clear if Bergdahl, 31, has a deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment, or if he’s simply pleading guilty in hopes of leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.

      Bergdahl’s lawyers are expected to reveal in court Monday whether there’s a plea agreement in place to cap his punishment, or if he’s pleading guilty without such a deal in what’s known colloquially as a “naked plea.” In either scenario, his punishment won’t be known until after the judge holds the sentencing hearing that’s expected to start on Oct. 23. Bergdahl, who’s from Hailey, Idaho, previously chose to have his case heard by a judge alone, rather than a jury.


      A naked plea would be a risky move, Eric Carpenter, an assistant law professor at Florida International University and a former Army defense attorney and prosecutor, told Task & Purpose.

      “It can backfire,” Carpenter said. “If he doesn’t have a deal, they could go in there and enter this naked plea and come out with a life sentence.”

      Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arrives for a motions hearing on Monday, Oct.16, 2017, on Fort Bragg. Bergdahl, who walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban for five years, is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Andrew Craft)

      Oct.16, 2017: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arrives for a motions hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C.  (AP/The Fayetteville Observer)

      Guilty pleas would bring the highly politicized saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan set off search missions by scores of his fellow service members. President Obama was criticized by Republicans for the 2014 Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home, while President Donald Trump harshly criticized Bergdahl on the campaign trail.

      Serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl are expected to play a role in his sentencing. While guilty pleas would allow him to avoid a trial, he’d still face a sentencing hearing in late October. Bergdahl’s five years of captivity by the Taliban and its allies also will likely play a role in what punishment he receives.

      At one point during his captivity, Bergdahl converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, Fox News reported in 2014, citing secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account.

      The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

      The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.


      Legal scholars have said that several pretrial rulings against the defense have given prosecutors leverage to pursue stiff punishment against Bergdahl, The Associated Press reported. Perhaps most significant was the judge’s decision in June to allow evidence of serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl at the sentencing phase. The judge ruled that a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn’t have wound up in separate firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl.

      The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove President Donald Trump had unfairly swayed the case with scathing criticism of Bergdahl, including suggestions of harsh punishment. The judge wrote in a February ruling that Trump’s campaign-trail comments were “disturbing and disappointing” but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.

      “We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted,” Bergdahl said to a British filmmaker in 2016 when asked about trials, according to an interview obtained by ABC News. “The people who want to hang me, you’re never going to convince those people.”

      Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Bergdahl walked off his base without authorization. Bergdahl himself told a general during a preliminary investigation that he left intending to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit. He was soon captured.

      But the defense team has argued that Bergdahl can’t be held responsible for a long chain of events that included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches.

      Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base while his case unfolds.

      The Associated Press contributed to this report.

      [Read More]

      Trump to halt ‘massive’ ObamaCare subsidies, legal fight likely

      Trump to halt ‘massive’ ObamaCare subsidies, legal fight likely

      President Trump plans to halt payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act “immediately,” in a major blow to ObamaCare that is likely to draw a legal challenge.

      The president, though, used the overnight decision to up pressure on Democrats to negotiate a “fix” to the “imploding” health care law.

      “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!” he said in a pre-dawn tweet on Friday.

      He added, “ObamaCare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”

      The Justice Department took swift action, notifying a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., in connection with a related lawsuit that an upcoming Oct. 18 payment “will not occur.”

      The decision is the latest effort in the president’s bid to ultimately “repeal and replace” what’s considered the signature legislation of his White House predecessor.

      The White House said in a statement that the Department of Health and Human Services has determined there is no appropriation for so-called cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers under the ObamaCare law.

      “We will discontinue these payments immediately,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma.

      Trump’s decision was expected to rattle already-unsteady insurance marketplaces. The president has previously threatened to end the payments, which help reduce health insurance copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes, but remain under a legal cloud.

      Trump has privately told at least one lawmaker that the payments may continue if a bipartisan deal is reached on heath care, The Wall Street Journal reported.


      Pushback expected

      The president’s action will likely to trigger a lawsuit from state attorneys general, who contend the subsidies to insurers are fully authorized by federal law, and the president’s position is reckless. Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, called the decision “sabotage,” and promised a lawsuit.

      After the president’s intentions were disclosed, leading Democrats in Congress were quick to criticize the plan.

      In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., predicted that Trump’s expected action would increase Americans’ health premiums by 20 percent or more.

      “If these reports are true,” the Democrats said in the joint statement, referring to the president’s plans, “the president is walking away from the good-faith, bipartisan Alexander-Murray negotiations and risking the health care of millions of Americans.”

      The Democrats were referring to bipartisan talks being led by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to seek a bipartisan agreement for funding ObamaCare subsidies and stabilizing health insurance markets.

      Order to lower premiums

      Earlier Thursday, Trump predicted that “millions and millions of people” would benefit from an executive order he signed Thursday to make lower-premium health insurance plans more widely available.

      But the changes Trump hopes to bring about could take months or even longer. That’s according to administration officials who outlined the order for reporters. The proposals may not be finalized in time to affect coverage for 2019, let alone next year.

      White House domestic policy director Andrew Bremberg said that Trump still believes Congress needs to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. The White House described the order as first steps.

      Trump signed the order in the White House’s Roosevelt Room surrounded by Vice President Mike Pence, members of his Cabinet and Congress.

      Trump employed the executive order because the Republican-controlled Congress has been unable to pass a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

      Trump says the health care system “will get better” with his action, and the action will cost the federal government nothing.

      The president says he still wants Congress repeal and replace the Obama health care law. But he says his order will give people more competition, more choices and lower premiums.

      The Associated Press contributed to this story.

      [Read More]

      Trump warns post-hurricane Puerto Rico, says FEMA won’t stay ‘forever’

      Trump warns post-hurricane Puerto Rico, says FEMA won’t stay ‘forever’

      President Trump issued a warning Thursday to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying the U.S. territory’s infrastructure was a mess before the storm and warning that federal officials cannot stay on the island “forever.”

      The president made the comments in a series of early-morning tweets.

       “’Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.’ Says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability say[s] the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes,” Trump said.

      The president’s comments come just one week after he visited the U.S. territory that is struggling to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century.

      Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico was criticized, for among other things commenting on how the storm’s death toll was far lower than that of a “real catastrophe like Katrina” in 2005.

      “Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all your people.”

      The president has repeatedly called for more help “on a local level” from Puerto Rico and has had an intermittent feud with the San Juan mayor, who also has faced criticism for engaging in political combat when other officials on the island are not.

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shot back Thursday at Trump’s latest tweets.

      “Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?” Schumer tweeted.

      On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., plans to lead a small bipartisan group, including the chairman and top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee that signs off on spending legislation, to visit Puerto Rico.

      Ryan plans to meet with local officials and emergency personnel.

      The House is expected to vote this week on an emergency spending package including billions of dollars more in relief for Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida in the wake of deadly storms Maria, Harvey and Irma this hurricane season.

      The president asked Congress this week for a $4.9 billion loan to help Puerto Rico pay its bills from the storm. The island faced more than $70 billion in debt prior to the storm, and declared bankruptcy in May.

      [Read More]

      Boy Scouts Will Admit Girls, Allow Them to Earn Eagle Scout Rank

      Article credited to NBC News:

      Boy Scouts Will Admit Girls, Allow Them to Earn Eagle Scout Rank

      The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday that girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.

      “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts.

      The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change in an organization that has been primarily for boys since its founding more than 100 years ago.

      Image: Boy Scouts listen as President Donald Trump speaks during the National Boy Scout Jamboree
      Boy Scouts listen as President Donald Trump speaks during the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, July 24, 2017. Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images

      Starting next year, young girls can join Cub Scout units, known as dens. Local scouting organizations can choose to have dens for girls and dens for boys. “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls,” the organization said in a statement.

      A separate program for older girls will be available in 2019, the Boy Scouts said, enabling them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

      The Boy Scouts said the moves reflect the changing nature of American life, adding to the appeal of a scouting program that can serve the entire family.

      BSA said it commissioned two nationwide surveys that showed parents not involved in scouting had high interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

      Girls are now part of four scouting programs — Venturing and Sea Scouting, geared toward outdoor activities; Exploring, a career-oriented mentoring program; and STEM, focusing on science and math. But those programs have not offered a path to Eagle Scout for girls.

      Earlier this year, the National Organization for Women urged the Boy Scouts to admit girls to the entire program, supporting the efforts of a New York teenager, Sydney Ireland, to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, as her older brother did.

      “I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do — earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award,” she told NBC News. “The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it’s just not the program that I want to be part of. I think girls should just have the opportunity to be a member of any organization they want regardless of gender.”

      In the past, the Girl Scouts have been cool to the idea of admitting girls into the Boy Scouts, citing research that showed many girls learn best in an all-female environment.

      “We are unparalleled in our ability to build great female leaders who contribute to society at every level,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a psychologist who helps guide the Girl Scouts.

      [Read More]

      Trump goes after Jemele Hill and ESPN, targets NFL ‘tax breaks’

      Article courtesy of Fox News :

      Trump goes after Jemele Hill and ESPN, targets NFL ‘tax breaks’

      President Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday slamming ESPN and the network’s benched anchor Jemele Hill amid the controversy over NFL national anthem protests, while threatening to end the “massive tax breaks” for the football league.

      “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

      Hill, host of “SC6,” called the president a “white supremacist” on Twitter last month, and most recently called for a boycott of Dallas Cowboys advertisers.

      ESPN subsequently suspended her for two weeks.


      Hill’s efforts followed new rules made by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said any player who disrespects the flag will not play.

      “I know this, we cannot…in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones said. “We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we’re clear.”


      Hill issued instructions for “change” on Twitter following Jones’ comments.

      “Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers,” Hill tweeted Sunday.

      Trump tweeted support for Jones overnight — but on Tuesday morning, the president questioned the NFL’s “massive tax breaks.”

      “Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump tweeted.

      The NFL’s tax status has been controversial for years. The league announced in 2015 it would voluntarily lose its tax-exempt status, but the league still enjoys various tax breaks. According to Time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the tax-exemption a “distraction” in 2015 and said it has been “mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years.”

      Trump is not the only Republican who has slammed the league’s tax break in recent weeks.

      Jemele Hill, AP, FBN

      ESPN’s Jemele Hill was suspended for two weeks after calling for fans to boycott advertisers aligned with the Dallas Cowboys.  (AP)

      Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., criticized it, saying, “In America, if you want to play sports you’re free to do so. If you want to protest, you’re free to do so. But you should do so on your own dime.”

      Brooke Singman is a Politics Report

      [Read More]

      BREAKING NEWS: Trump Waives Jones Act Shipping Restrictions For Puerto Rico


      BREAKING NEWS: Trump Waives Jones Act Shipping Restrictions For Puerto Rico


      (Reuters/The Daily Caller) – White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Thursday that the Trump administration had waived Jones Act shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico so that hurricane relief aid may reach the island.

      Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Wednesday he expected the federal government to waive the Jones Act.

      He said he has been speaking with members of Congress from both parties who have supported an emergency waiver.

      “We expect them to waive it,” Rossello said in an interview with CNN. He noted there was a seven-day waiver after Hurricane Irma, which was much less devastating to the island.

      “That is critical, particularly for fuel,” he said. “One of the considerations right now is the priority of getting fuel, diesel, gasoline, all across the island. Right now we have enough fuel. We’re limited by the transportation logistics, but at some point of course, getting fuel into the island is going to be critical so that we can have the major functions of telecoms, hospitals, water, to be running appropriately.”

      The Jones Act requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by American owned-and-operated ships.

      U.S. Senator John McCain asked acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke on Tuesday to grant an emergency waiver of the law. He said that Puerto Rican residents would have to pay at least twice as much for food, drinking water and other supplies without the waiver.

      (Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

      [Read More]

      BREAKING NEWS : Done Deal: Bass Pro Completes $4 Billion Acquisition of Cabela’s


      Done Deal: Bass Pro Completes $4 Billion Acquisition of Cabela’s

      The $4 billion acquisition has been years in the making, so we expect the process to go very smoothly. As of right now, no stores will be closing and things should remain mostly the same for shoppers with some noticeable improvements listed below. What’s less certain is the fate of the 2,000 or so employees at Cabela’s Sidney, Nebraska, headquarters. Bass Pro stated they expect to move operations to Missouri, but they might keep some employees in Nebraska.

      Here is a list of answers Cabela’s has provided to their anxious customers. Many of these actually seem much better for the consumer.

      What are the customer benefits of uniting these companies?

      This is an opportunity to create a “best of the best” shopping experience for all outdoor enthusiasts worldwide for generations to come. Bringing together these two great companies will advance our impact on the future of conservation like never before while protecting the outdoor heritage we all hold dear. We plan to retain and grow everything customers love about both brands.

      Will the company’s name change?

      We will continue celebrating and promoting both the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s brands as we bring our two great companies together.

      Will Bass Pro Shops gift cards be honored at Cabela’s locations and vice versa?

      Customers can exchange a Bass Pro Shops gift card to a Cabela’s gift card for an equal amount and vice versa. Gift cards are exchanged at the customer service counter in either store or by contacting our online customer service centers. To exchange a Cabela’s gift card that you would like to use at Bass Pro Shops, call 1-800-211-6440 to have it exchanged. To exchange a Bass Pro Shops gift card that you would like to use at Cabela’s, call 1-800-237-4444 to have it exchanged. We are working to improve this process moving forward.

      Will I be able to return Cabela’s purchases to Bass Pro Shops locations and vice versa?

      Yes, Cabela’s purchases can be returned to our customer service counters at Bass Pro Shops and vice versa or by contacting our online customer service centers.

      Will existing exclusive brands and products still be available at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s?

      Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s have strong national proprietary brands in several categories. Our goal is to continue developing and growing our brands to ensure we provide the same exceptional quality, service and value that customers have come to know and trust from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s exclusive products.

      Will Cabela’s CLUB Visa cardholders earn points at Bass Pro Shops locations?

      Yes, Cabela’s CLUB Visa holders will earn 1% back on all purchases made at Bass Pro Shops and all locations that accept Visa. In addition, Cabela’s CLUB Visa members will still earn 2%, 3% or 5% back on qualifying purchases at all Cabela’s locations, earning points for free gear and incredible outdoor experiences. We are working on solutions to better connect the programs.

      Will Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Mastercard cardholders earn points at Cabela’s locations?

      Yes, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Mastercard holders will earn 1% back on all purchases made at Cabela’s and all locations that accept Mastercard. In addition, you will still earn 3% or 5% back on qualifying purchases at all Bass Pro Shops locations, earning points for free gear and unique experiences. We are working on solutions to better connect the programs.


      Here’s a video Cabela’s released to explain the sale, and you can read more about the transition here



      Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

      Facebook is under scrutiny for (among other things) allegedly selling political ads to the Russians, allowing people to set up fake accounts, and not properly monitoring the content posted by “fake” profiles. Wait. What?

      The meta-country of Facebook
      With a population of over 2 billion registered users, the meta-country of Facebook is the largest assemblage of digital citizens on earth. But make no mistake, Facebook is not a democracy; it is a for-profit corporation with a fiduciary duty to its shareholders. To that end, the proletariat is lorded over by an all-powerful algorithm that is continuously tuned to keep Facebook users inside their comfort zones.

      The aphorism “The greatest minds of our time are busy figuring out the best way to get us to click on an ad” is objectively true. You will find some of the world’s smartest people working at Facebook.

      In practice, there are far too many things happening on Facebook for humans to deal with, so the company has designed sophisticated machine learning and AI systems to keep you engaged, scrolling, and clicking. If you like or click on something, Facebook’s algorithms learn to feed you more of the same. It is Facebook’s singular mission. The more you engage with content on Facebook, the more likely you are to do something that will earn the company money.

      The 21st-Century Cold War
      The Russian Federation and the United States have been engaged in a Cold War since the end of World War II. Information warfare (propaganda) is not new, but weaponized social media is (relatively speaking), and the general public is just starting to understand its potential.

      There is an apocryphal story that tells of NASA engineers spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that would work in zero gravity. Faced with the same problem, Russian engineers gave their cosmonauts pencils. This tale is not true, but it is oracular. Technically hacking Facebook would be exceptionally hard to accomplish, but social engineering a targeted propaganda campaign using Facebook and other social media platforms is as simple as using a pencil. This kind of social engineering has another name: Advertising.

      Either advertising works or it doesn’t
      Department store and advertising pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” This was absolutely true when he said it back in the late 1870s. It is not true today.

      Today, Martech (for marketing technology) has all but replaced traditional advertising as the best way to get your message to a targeted audience. (I’m going to take some heat for saying this—it’s heresy, but the numbers don’t lie.) In most cases, campaign results can be accurately measured. And you guessed it: Google and Facebook are the two premier providers of paid targeted messaging.

      Socially engineered social media weapons
      Everything you need to influence an election is available online. Here’s how you do it:

      1. Understand the demographic makeup of your target audience.

      2. Design targeted content and post it on blogs and websites.

      3. Design targeted messaging (IAB standard digital ad units, Google keyphrase-based copy, etc.) Test, fail and learn until you get your messaging right.

      4. Create a significant number of social media accounts to use to propagate your propaganda.

      5. Program some bots to post your propaganda from the hundreds or thousands of “fake” social media accounts you set up or purchased (yes, there are companies that make a living doing this).

      6. Design and purchase a geo-targeted messaging campaign.

      7. Evaluate the results of your efforts with the analytics provided by the digital platforms you have purchased your media from.

      8. Test, fail and learn. Revise your messaging and adjust your digital media budget accordingly.

      9. Go back to step 2 and repeat until the desired results have been achieved.

      This is about as straightforward as a digital media buy gets. If you do a good job, the only way anyone will know if you or your content are real or fake is if they spend significant resources analyzing what’s going on. You can easily tell if you agree or disagree with the content, but once real people start sharing, commenting on, and reposting content, it is exceptionally hard to tell where it came from or whether it is real or fake.

      Breaking: The US is not at war with North Korea

      Breaking: The US is not at war with North Korea

       White House holds briefing amid NFL backlash (full) 27:46

      (CNN)Such is the state of world affairs that it was news Monday when Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary told reporters that, no, the US has not declared war on North Korea.

      There had been some confusion among the North Koreans.
      As CNN’s Zachary Cohen reported Monday:
      North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused US President Donald Trump of declaring war on his country by tweeting over the weekend that North Korea “won’t be around much longer.”
      “Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn’t be around much longer and declared a war on our country,” Ri said, according to an official translation of his remarks to reporters in New York.
      close dialog
      Tell us where to send you Five Things
      Morning briefings of all the news & buzz people will be talking about
      “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive counter measures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country,” Ri said.
      But it’s a funny thing, how the US government works, despite being engaged in numerous armed conflicts costing hundreds of thousands of American lives, the US hasn’t actually declared war on another country since 1942, when the US declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania during World War II.
      In fact, the US has only declared war 11 times in its history, according to the US Senate website. Six of those times had to do with World War II, two of them with World War I and then war with Great Britain in 1812, war with Mexico in 1846 and war with Spain in 1898.
      Why doesn’t the US declare war anymore? It’s a power Congress has largely ceded to the President.
      The Constitution grants Congress the ability to declare war in Article 1, Section 8.
      But presidents don’t really have to wait for Congress with the more broad interpretation of executive authority that has developed around the executive branch. When they do feel they need congressional authority, they have been more likely to seek an authorization for the use of military force. Even that has become more perfunctory in recent years.
      Three successive US presidents have used the 2001 Authorization For the Use of Military Force against terrorism to prosecute military action in Afghanistan and in other terrorist hotspots. A separate Authorization for the Use of Military Force was passed in 2002 to authorize the second Iraq War.
      Lawmakers are loathe to take difficult votes on military force, however they do, to some extent, control the President’s ability by controlling the national purse strings. They could, conceivably, choke off funding for a war.
      CNN contributor and University of Texas constitutional law professor Stephen Vladeck said it’s a bit too simplistic to simply say the US doesn’t declare war anymore.
      “In fact, it’s a bit more complicated, and has a lot to do with the international movement toward prohibiting aggressive/offensive war, with the idea being that declarations of war raise international law concerns that more limited use-of-force authorizations don’t,” he said in an email. “There’s also the related point that a declaration of war triggers a whole bunch of standby statutory authorities that Congress doesn’t usually like to activate, whereas a more limited use-of-force statute doesn’t.”
      The North Koreans could be forgiven for misinterpreting Trump’s bellicose pledge to bring “fire and fury” against them if they continued to threaten the US.
      Trump's war of words with Kim Jong Un

      Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong Un 02:45
      “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said in August during a meeting on opioids from his golf club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen … he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
      During a speech at the UN, Trump went further.
      “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said.
      Trump’s decision could be enough for, essentially, war and North Korea should know. It was against North Korea in 1950 that Harry Truman deployed troops without approval from Congress, setting the precedent of the modern US policy of authorizing force but not declaring war. He committed US troops and announced the move to the nation because of a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, not Congressional action. Louis Fisher at the Constitution Project has written about how far the US has come from the Constitutional idea of a declaration of war.
      “We are not at war,” Truman said during a 1950 press conference not long after committing troops.
      But more than 1.7 million Americans served in Korea — and more than 35,000 died there.
      The Korean war, by the way, never officially ended, although hostilities ceased in 1953. US troops are still stationed in South Korea and look each day over the border into the North.

      Kushner used private email to conduct White House business


      Kushner used private email to conduct White House business

      The senior adviser set up the account after the election. Other West Wing officials have also used private email accounts for official business.

      White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been under scrutiny in the ongoing Russia probes, which have expanded to include potential obstruction of justice by the president and his aides since January, and Kushner’s private email traffic may also be of interest to FBI and congressional investigators. | Pablo Marintez Monsivais/AP

      Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

      “Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said in a statement Sunday. “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.”

      Aides who have exchanged emails with Kushner on his private account since President Donald Trump took office in January include former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and spokesman Josh Raffel, according to emails described to or shown to POLITICO. In some cases, those White House officials have emailed Kushner’s account first, said people familiar with the messages. At times, Bannon and Priebus have also used private email accounts to correspond with Kushner and others.

      The decision to set up new, private accounts as Kushner was preparing to enter the White House came in the wake of a bitter election campaign in which Trump routinely excoriated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account to handle government business when she was secretary of state.

      There is no indication that Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account, or that he relies on his private email account more than his official White House account to conduct government business. Aides say he prefers to call or text over using email.

      Still, Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records. At the time, Kushner — who served as a senior campaign adviser — was expected to be named to a White House role, while Ivanka Trump was publicly saying she didn’t plan to work in her father’s administration.

      Kushner’s representatives declined to detail the server or security measures on it.

      People familiar with the account say it was primarily set up for Kushner’s personal communications, but he has used it to communicate with acquaintances outside the White House about matters relating to Trump and the administration, according to people who have received messages, as well as with his White House colleagues.

      Kushner has been under scrutiny in the ongoing Russia probes, which have expanded to include potential obstruction of justice by the president and his aides since January, and Kushner’s private email traffic may also be of interest to FBI and congressional investigators.

      Ivanka Trump, now an assistant to the president, has an email account on the same domain, they said. POLITICO has not seen Ivanka Trump’s correspondence, and there is no indication that she used her account to discuss government business.

      Private email traffic among White House aides — some of it sent between personal email accounts rather than to or from government addresses — could skirt the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all documents related to the president’s personal and political activities to be archived. Trump himself is not known to use email but occasionally has email messages to his assistant printed and presented to him.

      Lowell said Kushner has adhered to government record-keeping requirements by forwarding all the emails to his account, though POLITICO could not verify that.

      Other White House officials have also sometimes used personal accounts to correspond with Kushner and with each other, according to emails seen by POLITICO and people familiar with Kushner’s correspondence. They have also used encrypted apps like Signal and Confide that automatically delete messages, prompting former press secretary Sean Spicer in February to issue a warning to communications staffers that using such apps could violate the Presidential Records Act.

      The use of personal email accounts in the Trump White House has been somewhat common, even though the president has been a harsh critic of Clinton’s private email habits, frequently leading “lock her up” chants as he traveled across the country on the campaign trail.

      “It was an incredibly effective attack,” said Evan Siegfried, a GOP consultant. “He did a great job of injecting the emails into the mainstream.”

      In her newly released memoir, Clinton cited the investigation into her email practices as one reason for her defeat. Comey, who in July 2016 formally cleared her of any wrongdoing, reopened the issue in late October, days before the election, after finding a cache of emails backed up on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the husband of Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin.

      The 2016 election was also shaped by the release of hacked emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee as well as from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The hack is being investigated as part of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

      A former Obama administration lawyer said aides were asked to not use personal email accounts for official or political business but that occasionally an aide would send a message and later forward it to their account.

      If emails related to Trump aren’t saved, it could be difficult for historians, according to Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. Zelizer said that historians can provide a richer history of how administrations work — and historians have feared for years that the proliferation of email will lead some people to do their business in ways in which the records can’t be archived. Zelizer said it could also make the job more difficult for investigators seeking to understand parts of the White House.

      “There’s a reason we require officials to keep those records,” said Zelizer. “Even if 80 percent of someone’s records are not interesting, the other 20 percent can be very illuminating on how an administration worked.”

      Trump responds after North Korea threatens hydrogen bomb test

      Trump responds after North Korea threatens hydrogen bomb test

      Amid new North Korean threats to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, President Trump tweeted Friday that the rogue regime’s leader would be “tested like never before.”

      Trump, during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, warned the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang continued its provocative actions, leading North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to up the ante by calling Trump “deranged.” North Korea escalated the situation further when the nation’s foreign minister revealed Pyongyang could conduct the H-bomb test, and, between tweets about healthcare and “The Russia hoax,” Trump fired back.

      “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” Trump wrote.

      The Yonhap news agency reported Thursday on the hydrogen bomb threat from North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Ri framed the possible new nuke test as a response to Trump’s U.N. speech.

      “This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean. Regarding which measures to take, I don’t really know since it is what Kim Jong Un does,” Ri said.

      Such a test would be considered a major provocation by the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Ri was scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, a day later than previously scheduled.

      Ri’s comments followed Kim’s extraordinary statement lashing out at Trump, vowing the American leader would “pay dearly” for his threat to destroy North Korea.

      Kim’s first-person statement was published by North Korea’s state propaganda arm in response to Trump’s fiery speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. South Korean media called it the first such direct address to the world by Kim.

      Kim said Trump was “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He also described the U.S. president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”

      Some analysts saw Kim’s statement as a clear announcement that North Korea would ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and the U.S. mainland.

      On Tuesday, Trump mocked Kim as a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission,” and said that if “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

      Kim characterized Trump’s speech to the world body as “mentally deranged behavior.”

      He said Trump’s remarks “have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”

      Kim said he was “thinking hard” about his response and that Trump “will face results beyond his expectation.”

      Mueller Seeks White House Documents Related to Trump’s Actions as President

      Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, at the Capitol in June. CreditMary F. Calvert for The New York Times

      WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director, according to White House officials.

      Mr. Mueller is also interested in an Oval Office meeting Mr. Trump had with Russian officials in which he said the dismissal of the F.B.I. director had relieved “great pressure” on him.

      The document requests provide the most details to date about the breadth of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and show that several aspects of his inquiry are focused squarely on Mr. Trump’s behavior in the White House.

      In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s office sent a document to the White House that detailed 13 areas in which investigators are seeking information. Since then, administration lawyers have been scouring White House emails and asking officials whether they have other documents or notes that may pertain to Mr. Mueller’s requests.

      One of the requests is about a meeting Mr. Trump had in May with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was fired. That day, Mr. Trump met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, along with other Russian officials. The New York Times reported that in the meeting Mr. Trump had said that firing Mr. Comey relieved “great pressure” on him.

       Mr. Mueller has also requested documents about the circumstances of the firing of Michael T. Flynn, who was Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. Additionally, the special counsel has asked for documents about how the White House responded to questions from The Times about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. That meeting was set up by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to get derogatory information from Russians about Hillary Clinton.

      Russia’s official news agency photographed President Trump’s meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in the Oval Office in May. The American news media was denied access.CreditAlexander Shcherbak/TASS, via Getty Images

      In July, when The Times put questions about the meeting to the White House, Mr. Trump and senior administration officials prepared a response on Air Force One that made no mention of the meeting’s real purpose, saying instead that it focused on Russian adoptions. Mr. Mueller has asked for all documents the White House has about the meeting, and all internal White House communications about the statement drafted on Air Force One.

      Ty Cobb, the lawyer Mr. Trump hired to provide materials related to the Russia investigation to the special counsel and Congress, has told Mr. Mueller’s office that he will turn over many of the documents this week.

      “We can’t comment on any specific requests being made or our conversations with the special counsel,” he said.

      Based on the document request to the White House, there is no indication that Mr. Mueller is pressing to examine Mr. Trump’s personal finances or business dealings — areas the president has said should be off limits. It is not clear whether Mr. Mueller has made separate document requests elsewhere to examine those subjects.

      Mr. Mueller has asked for all internal White House communications about numerous former campaign officials, including Paul J. Manafort, the former campaign chairman who is now under federal investigation. The document request also seeks communications about Mr. Trump’s campaign foreign policy team: Carter Page, J. D. Gordon, Keith Kellogg, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.

      Of the 13 subjects in Mr. Mueller’s document request, four are related to Mr. Flynn. The retired lieutenant general was fired in February after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about December phone calls he had with Mr. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time.

      F.B.I. agents interviewed Mr. Flynn about the phone calls, and the special counsel has requested all internal White House communications about the F.B.I. interview. Mr. Mueller has also asked for documents about how the White House responded to concerns raised by the Justice Department that Mr. Flynn might be subject to Russian blackmail for misleading Mr. Pence about the calls.

      Three of Mr. Mueller’s requests focus on Mr. Comey’s firing. The special counsel wants any White House documents about the decision-making that led to Mr. Comey’s firing, and about all meetings Mr. Comey had with Mr. Trump.

      Mr. Mueller was appointed in May, shortly after it was revealed that Mr. Comey had written a series of memos about his interactions with Mr. Trump — including one Oval Office meeting when Mr. Comey said Mr. Trump had asked him to end the F.B.I. investigation of Mr. Flynn. During another meeting, the president asked for a pledge of loyalty from the F.B.I. director, according to Mr. Comey’s public testimony.

      The special counsel has requested documents about a statement made a week before Mr. Comey’s firing by the former White House press secretary, Sean Spicer.

      During a May 3 news briefing, Mr. Spicer said that “the president has confidence in the director.”

      The previous night, Mr. Trump had tweeted that Mr.  Comey “was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”