Tag Archives: ‘didn’t

'I didn’t hear the words': Harris apologizes for response to mental disabilities slur

'I didn’t hear the words': Harris apologizes for response to mental disabilities slur"That word and others like it aren’t acceptable. Ever,” Harris wrote on Twitter



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Larry Kudlow on Trump’s ‘Second Thoughts’ Remarks: ‘He Didn’t Exactly Hear the Question’

Larry Kudlow on Trump’s ‘Second Thoughts’ Remarks: ‘He Didn’t Exactly Hear the Question’White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow attempted to spin President Trump’s remarks Sunday morning in which he expressed regret over his escalating trade war with China, claiming that the president didn’t “hear the question” when asked if he had second thoughts.During a breakfast meeting with British prime minister Boris Johnson at the G7 on Sunday morning, Trump told reporters that he had “second thoughts about everything” when asked if he had second thoughts on ordering American companies to no longer do business with China.Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union later in the morning, Kudlow was immediately confronted with Trump’s comments by guest host Brianna Keilar. The Trump adviser, however, insisted that the president was being misinterpreted.“Well, look, if I can reinterpret that,” Kudlow noted, “I mean, he spoke to us, he didn’t exactly hear the question. Actually, what he was intending to say, he always has second thoughts and actually had second thoughts about possibly a higher tariff response to China.”He added: “So it was not to remove the tariff. He was thinking about a higher tariff response. Having said that, we’re staying with the policy that was announced on Friday, I believe, a five percent increase on the two tariffs.”Looking for clarification, Keilar asked Kudlow if Trump was saying that he may want to further increase tariffs on China, but wasnt currently going to do so. Kudlow agreed that was the case.“That is absolutely correct,” he stated. “That was his thought, it somehow got misinterpreted. I’m not sure he heard the question altogether. It was a very crowded room.”Kudlow’s attempts at clarifying Trump’s “second thoughts” remarks came on the heels of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham’s own spin.“The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China.’ His answer has been greatly misinterpreted,” she said in a statement. “President Trump responded in the affirmative—because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”Elsewhere in the CNN interview, Kudlow clashed with Keilar, repeatedly insisting that she was taking Johnson out of context when he said at the G7 that he does not like tariffs as a whole.“Larry, what’s out of context?” Keilar pushed back at one point. “We just rolled video. What is out of context with that quote?”Kudlow said he was in the meeting with Johnson and that it “all depends on context,” prompting the CNN host to point out that the British prime minister’s comments came directly from that meeting.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Father and son were caught raiding lobster traps in the Keys, cops say. It didn’t end well

Father and son were caught raiding lobster traps in the Keys, cops say. It didn’t end wellA Highlands County, Florida, man faces eight felony conservation counts after unmarked state marine patrol officers say they saw him raiding commercial spiny lobster traps in the Florida Keys.



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Mitch McConnell Didn’t Stop Obama from Doing Anything about Russia in 2016

Mitch McConnell Didn’t Stop Obama from Doing Anything about Russia in 2016One of the enduring myths told by Democrats about the 2016 campaign is that President Obama was ready to issue a stern warning to the American people about Russian meddling that would have changed the course of the election but that he was thwarted by Mitch McConnell. This is self-serving nonsense, and the closer you look at the evidence, the weaker it becomes.Democrats and liberals have lately been campaigning to delegitimize McConnell by claiming that he is, in the words of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, “a Russian asset.” Julián Castro, a supposedly serious presidential candidate, called him “Moscow Mitch” in Wednesday night’s debate — a faux-Trumpian nickname that Joe Scarborough and Twitter progressives have been trying to make happen. As Rich Lowry has detailed, their current case against McConnell as a paid Russian sleeper agent is based on his opposition to federalizing state election laws, something he and many other conservatives have been against for decades.The charge has its origins, however, in Team Obama’s claim that McConnell stymied its efforts to protect the 2016 vote from Russian influence. The claim is equal parts attack on McConnell and excuse for Obama, peddled by Joe Biden and others looking to safeguard Obama’s legacy. That's why it’s worth revisiting now.The Accusation The Washington Post first told this story in December 2016, when Obama was still in office, sourcing it to “a senior administration official”:> Officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.> > Obama dispatched [counterterrorism adviser Lisa] Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.> > Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions. [Emphasis added.]The Post described McConnell’s reaction:> According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics. Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.James Clapper, Obama’s notoriously partisan director of national intelligence — and possibly the Post’s source — made much the same claim in a 2018 book. From NPR:> “House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president,” Clapper writes. “I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn’t care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won.”Biden, in remarks in 2018, told a slightly different story, suggesting that the appeal to McConnell was supposed to be aimed as a warning to Russia:> Brennan and company came up and said: Here’s what we know. Why don’t we put out a bipartisan warning to Russia — hands off, man, or there’s going to be a problem? . . . Mitch McConnell wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment that we would say essentially Russia’s doing this, stop — bipartisan, so it couldn’t be used as a weapon against the democratic nominee of a president trying to use the intelligence community. . . .> > . . . Could you imagine if the president of the United States called a press conference in October with this fellow, and Bannon and company, and said: Tell you what. The Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it. What do you think would have happened? I imagine — I mean, I have a view, but I genuinely mean it. Ask yourselves, what do you think would have happened? Would things have gotten better, or would it further look like we were attempting to delegitimize the electoral process because of our opponent? [Emphasis added.]Biden’s version of events produced headlines like this one, from Politico: “Biden: McConnell stopped Obama from calling out Russians.”Say What? The first question that comes to mind is exactly what Obama or his administration proposed to say or do, as compared to what it actually did. Nobody has ever offered the text of any proposed statement, and accounts of what it was supposed to say are varying, vague, and hard to pin down. What was the issue: Russia hacking voting machines? Russia leaking stolen emails? Russian misinformation? Was the Obama administration hoping to paint Trump as the beneficiary of Russian help with the approval of Republican leaders? Was the intended audience American voters, American election officials, or Russia?As Politico noted, “McConnell’s office disputed [Biden’s] account, pointing to a letter signed by all four congressional leaders in September 2016 and sent to the president of the National Association of State Election Directors, urging cybersecurity precautions in light of reports of attempted hacking. That missive, however, did not address Russia specifically, or the larger topic of influence beyond voting systems.”How strong was our intelligence on Russian attacks on voting systems at the time? According to the Post, “Though U.S. intelligence agencies were skeptical that hackers would be able to manipulate the election results in a systematic way, the White House feared that Russia would attempt to do so.” Yet, on October 7, 2016, Clapper issued a “Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security,” warning that> some states have . . . recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government. The [intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security] assess that it would be extremely difficult for someone, including a nation-state actor, to alter actual ballot counts or election results by cyber attack or intrusion. This assessment is based on the decentralized nature of our election system in this country and the number of protections state and local election officials have in place. States ensure that voting machines are not connected to the Internet, and there are numerous checks and balances as well as extensive oversight at multiple levels built into our election process. [Emphasis added.]As it happens, the Senate Intelligence Committee recently concluded that Russia was, in fact, probing state election systems for vulnerabilities. As federal authorities became aware of these efforts, they warned the state officials in charge of the systems: “On August 18, 2016, FBI issued an unclassified FLASH to state technical-level experts on . . . the attack on lllinois’s voter registration databases. . . . DHS and FBI issued a second FLASH and a Joint Analysis Report in October that flagged . . . suspect IP addresses, many unrelated to Russia.” Subsequent analysis confirmed that “IP addresses associated with the August 18, 2016 FLASH provided some indications the activity might be attributable to the Russian government, particularly the GRU.”But the Intelligence Committee’s report also found that, in October 2016, “the agencies did not understand the scope of the Russian effort. . . . Michael Daniel, President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity coordinator, had been convinced that the Russians had gone after all 50 states — because they are thorough. But it was only two years later that official intelligence assessments concluded that he was right.” As Biden conceded, “we didn’t know the extent of it then either.”In fact, Daniel confirmed in testimony to the Intelligence Committee that he had been told by Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, in a mid-2016 meeting to “stand down” and put responses to Russia’s election-related cyberattacks “on the back burner,” in part “because Rice feared the options would leak and ‘box the president in.’” Rice was, rather obviously, not working at the direction of Mitch McConnell.As the New York Times acknowledged, “there was no evidence that any votes were changed in actual voting machines, [though] ‘Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data’ in the Illinois voter database. The committee found no evidence that they did so.” While this should deeply worry us going forward, there has never been any evidence unearthed that any of it affected the outcome of the election in the slightest. That hasn’t stopped the widespread conspiracy theory that it did from taking hold among Democratic voters: A December 2016 YouGov poll found that 52 percent of Democrats believed that it was probably or definitely true that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President.” By late March 2019, that number had risen to 67 percent.Was the real issue Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee? The October 2016 Clapper statement also addressed that:> The U.S. Intelligence Community . . . is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.According to the Post, “Early drafts accused Putin by name, but the reference was removed out of concern that it might endanger intelligence sources and methods.” Still, this statement hardly went unnoticed: The New York Times quoted it extensively in a front-page article entitled “U.S. Accuses Russia of Directing Hacks to Influence the Election.” The story was overtaken by events — the Access Hollywood tape dropped an hour later, swamping the news cycle — but nothing would have prevented Obama from using the bully pulpit of the White House to emphasize the issue, if he had seriously believed that the public or the states needed to be warned.‘No Puppet’ That, of course, presupposes that the public had not already been warned. Were voters really unaware, before the election, of the arguments that Donald Trump was unduly sympathetic to Vladimir Putin, that Putin was meddling in the election in ways that in turn helped Trump, and that Russia was behind the hacking of Democrats and the release of hacked information by WikiLeaks and Guccifer? A sampling of what was publicly known and speculated about during the election suggests that the answer is a firm “no”:October 17, 2015 — The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker, “Putin Loves Donald Trump”: “Donald Trump has said that as president he would get along with Vladimir Putin, and there's evidence that the Republican front-runner’s apparent fondness for the Russian strongman is being reciprocated” by the “propagandist arm of the Putin government machine.” (Trump himself approvingly tweeted the article: “Russia and the world has already started to respect us again!”)December 17, 2015 — Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen, “Putin Endorses Trump”: “The Russian president took time from his address to hail the billionaire real-estate mogul as ‘a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt.’”December 29, 2015 — Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid, “Is Trump the New Armand Hammer?”:> With the business dealings in Moscow, and the Roger Stone and Alex Jones associations, a pattern has emerged in the case of Trump, suggesting that he is indeed the Kremlin’s candidate and that his purpose is to disrupt and sow confusion in the Republican Party and conservative ranks. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul noted, ‘Vladimir Putin does only things that are in Russia’s national interest. So for him to be endorsing Mr. Trump, that’s because he thinks it’s in Russia’s national interest for Mr. Trump to be the leader in the United States.’”February 26, 2016 — Reuters’s Mark Hosenball and Steve Holland, on Trump’s being advised by Michael Flynn: “Flynn raised eyebrows among some U.S. foreign policy veterans when he was pictured sitting at the head table with Putin at a banquet in Moscow late last year celebrating Russia Today.”March 30, 2016 — Bloomberg’s Zachary Mider on Carter Page: “Trump’s New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin’s Gazprom”April 7, 2016 — The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson:> Vladimir Putin is the one guy with whom Trump has not engaged in insult comedy. Frankly, given Putin’s behind the scenes dabblings in the affairs of other countries, Trump is just the sort of man he’d want to prop up to destabilize the West. . . . Trump has certainly gained a following nationally, but he needed real support on Day 1. According [to] various press reports, Trump’s solution was to pay people to attend his campaign launch and cheer him on . . . a lot of it is manufactured to convince the press and others that Trump’s support is larger than it actually is.April 8, 2016 — The Daily Caller’s Derek Hunter on how, “Some of Donald Trump’s support on Twitter comes from accounts with zero followers who tweet identical messages and who have been part of social media marketing campaigns in the past” including in Russian.April 2016 — Politico’s Michael Crowley, “The Kremlin’s Candidate”: “In the 2016 election, Putin’s propaganda network is picking sides [for Trump].”May 6, 2016 — Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith and Meredith Kennedy on Paul Manafort: “U.S. foreign policy figures of both parties are raising concerns about a close Trump aide’s ties to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. . . . Manafort’s close ties to Russia’s authoritarian ruler match Trump’s own praise for Putin.”June 15, 2016 — The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Zappone, “Donald Trump–Vladimir Putin: Russia’s information war meets the US election”:> It’s no secret that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump like each other. But what’s less known is how Russia is attempting to support Trump through social media, by helping galvanise and motivate extremists who in turn support the controversial Republican candidate. A network of Russian-backed anti-Western websites are linked with American white supremacist, sovereign citizen, and conspiracy theory sites. Activists connected to those sites support the Trump campaign, often parroting Moscow’s criticism of the US, NATO and the general ills of Western society.July 23, 2016 — Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, “Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing”: “Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. . . . There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.”July 24, 2016 — CNN’s Evan Perez, “Sources: US officials warned DNC of hack months before the party acted”:> Hillary Clinton’s campaign has accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, saying its hackers stole [Democratic National Committee] emails and released them to foment disunity in the party and aid Donald Trump. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said on Sunday that “experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, [and are] releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.”. . . Mook told CNN’s Jake Tapper . . . that “changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian” . . . could provide some of the motive behind the hacks.July 24, 2016 — Defense One’s Patrick Tucker:> Close your eyes and imagine that a hacking group backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin broke into the email system of a major U.S. political party. The group stole thousands of sensitive messages and then published them through an obliging third party in a way that was strategically timed to influence the United States presidential election. Now open your eyes, because that’s what just happened.July 24, 2016 — Politifact: “The U.S. government has not yet publicly named the culprit behind the DNC hack. But there seems to be widespread agreement among cybersecurity experts and professionals that the attribution belongs to Russian intelligence actors.”July 25, 2016 — Garry Kasparov: “Kremlin troll master Konstanin Rykov registered ‘Trump2016.ru’ in August, 2015.”July 27, 2016 — Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand: “It looks like Russia hired internet trolls to pose as pro-Trump Americans. . . . Russia’s troll factories were, at one point, likely being paid by the Kremlin to spread pro-Trump propaganda on social media.”July 27, 2016 — Donald Trump, in a nationally televised press conference:> Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. . . . I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. . . . By the way they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there. So let’s see.October 19, 2016 — Marco Rubio, warning that the DNC hacks are “an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process” and blaming them on Putin.October 19, 2016 — Hillary Clinton, in perhaps the most memorable moment of the fall 2016 debates, interrupting a Trump answer about Putin’s not respecting her:> Clinton: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.> > Trump: No puppet. No puppet.> > Clinton: And it’s pretty clear . . .> > Trump: You’re the puppet!> > Clinton: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit . . .> > Trump: No, you’re the puppet.> > Clinton: . . . that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list — break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do — and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race. . . . We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17 — 17! — intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.Anyone who cared to know had plenty of opportunity to hear that Trump was uncomfortably cozy with Putin, that Putin returned the favor, that Putin was widely believed to be behind the DNC hacks, that Trump was perfectly and openly happy to receive that kind of help, that the Trump campaign benefited from a variety of shady third-party online tactics, and that some of those tactics, at least, could be traced to the Russians. Much of this, in fact, was well known during the Republican primaries, openly discussed by conservative commentators, and stated explicitly during the fall campaign by Rubio, one of the most prominent Republicans in the Senate. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that an additional warning by Obama — whatever its content — would have changed anything.Why Obama Didn’t Say More In order to understand why Obama didn’t come out and say more about Russia, it is also important to review both the political context of the fall of 2016 and the Obama administration’s posture toward Russia.Politically, it is worth recalling that, between July and October 2016, basically everyone in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration expected Hillary Clinton would win the election. The overriding concern of both Obama and Clinton was to ensure the public legitimacy of her anticipated victory.On August 5, 2016, at a White House press conference, Obama blasted Trump for spreading the “conspiracy theory” that the election would be “rigged,” and insisted that “Of course the elections will not be rigged. . . . This will be an election like every other election.”At a Rose Garden ceremony on October 18, 2016 — the day before the “no puppet” debate — Obama doubled down:> We recognize that there’s something more important than any individual campaign. And that is making sure that the integrity and trust in our institutions sustains itself. . . . I have never seen, in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place. . . . It happens to be based on no facts; every expert, regardless of political party, regardless of ideology, conservative or liberal, who has ever examined these issues in a serious way, will tell you that instances of significant voter fraud are not to be found. . . . There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even . . . rig America’s elections, in part because they are so decentralized and [because of] the numbers of votes involved. There is no evidence that that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time. And so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes. [Emphasis added.]As the Times said of this statement at the time, Obama’s “sharp words reflected rising concerns among Democratic and Republican leaders. . . . Many worry that if Mrs. Clinton wins and Mr. Trump refuses to accept the result, his stand will undermine her authority going into office and sow doubts about the legitimacy of the process.” It would have been at odds with everything Obama saw as his own political interest at that moment to warn publicly that America’s elections were being fatally compromised by foreign interference. As the Post later reported, “Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia’s efforts to discredit the outcome and potentially contaminating the expected Clinton triumph.” Biden, too, ultimately conceded that, “unless you can give harder data than we have now, you’re going to be in a terrible position and it’s going to play into the delegitimizing of our electoral process, which was initially what the intelligence community . . . thought . . . this was all about.”What’s more, the Obama administration had always recognized the double-edged sword of complaining about foreign hacking of emails at precisely the same time that the chief line of attack against the Democratic nominee was that she had recklessly exposed her email communications to foreign hacking while serving as secretary of state. Victoria Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for Europe during the Obama administration, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 “that she had been briefed as early as December 2015 about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee — long before senior DNC officials were aware of it — and that the intrusion had all the hallmarks of a Russian operation.” The Obama administration itself had sat on that information until the public release of the DNC emails forced its hand. Focusing even more attention on email hacking in October 2016 would have had real political downsides for Democratic leaders.And finally, the Obama administration had spent years trying to avoid conflict with Russia, from Clinton’s famous “reset” button to Obama’s “more flexibility after the election” promise to Putin and his mocking dismissal of Mitt Romney’s warnings about the Kremlin: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” That cavalier attitude was gone by 2016, but Obama was still hesitant to pick a fight. Obama said after the election that he had personally warned Putin at a September G20 summit to “cut it out, there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t,” and maintained this was effective, insisting that, “In fact we did not see further tampering of the election process.” But he also admitted that he had pulled his punches:> I know there have been folks out there that suggest somehow, if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff, that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians. But keep in mind that we already have enormous numbers of sanctions against the Russians. . . . The idea that somehow public shaming is going to be effective, I think, doesn’t read the thought process in Russia very well.As the Post characterized the thinking, “White House officials were concerned that covert retaliatory measures might risk an escalation in which Russia, with sophisticated cyber-capabilities, might have less to lose than the United States, with its vast and vulnerable digital infrastructure.” The Clapper statement was also released right in the midst of Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to respond to Russian involvement in Syria.In short, the Obama White House had multiple motives to avoid vigorous public confrontations with Russia in September and October of 2016.The Hunt for Red Excuses And that is the bottom line: The Obama Administration tried to respond to Russian interference in the 2016 election, but it was too little, too late. By the fall of 2016, there wasn’t much more anyone could do. Russian actors had succeeded in spreading embarrassing stolen communications, and they had also spread a certain amount of misinformation. The Russian effort remained a drop in the bucket compared to the vast scale of information and opinion (true and otherwise) that circulates during a multi-billion-dollar two-year American presidential campaign, but it was nonetheless a particular irritant to Democrats. The most alarming possibility — Russian hacking of the voting process — never came to pass.Facing an election that surprisingly ended in Clinton’s defeat, and under pressure from partisans to find someone to blame, Obama administration figures settled on Mitch McConnell. McConnell, for his part, likely suspected at the time of his meeting with Monaco, Comey, and Johnson that he was being set up to take the fall for the White House’s mistakes. Simply adding his name to something that looked like the Clapper statement would not have made any difference. Painting his refusal to do so as evidence that he is a “Russian asset” glosses over Team Obama’s own doubts at the time about the available intelligence and its own hesitancy, for its own reasons, to act more vigorously. As Harry Truman used to say, the buck stops at the president’s desk. If there was something more Obama could or should have done, well, that’s on him. He was the elected commander-in-chief, after all.



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‘I didn’t want them to go’: Mother remembers father and daughter who drowned in Rio Grande

‘I didn’t want them to go’: Mother remembers father and daughter who drowned in Rio GrandeRosa Ramírez pleaded with her son, urging him not to leave El Salvador and head north with his wife and young daughter. The risks were simply too high.He saw no other choice. Their neighbourhood was controlled by a gang that enriched itself through drug-dealing, extortion and violence.But most pressing of all, Ms Ramírez said, they could barely make ends meet on their jobs at fast-food restaurants, and had pinned their hopes on making it to the United States.They never did.Last Sunday, after weeks on the road, Ms Ramírez’s son, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, drowned while trying to cross from Mexico into Texas.Their fate, captured in a searing photograph of father and daughter lying face down in the muddy waters of the Rio Grande, her arm limply wrapped around him, has quickly become a focal point in the debate over the stream of migrants pushing towards the US border – and President Donald Trump’s determination to stop it.Critics of the president have taken up the case of the Martínez family, with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York calling the president’s policies “a whirlwind of incompetence, leading to pictures like this”.Mr Trump and his supporters, in turn, have accused Democrats of an inaction that has worsened the crisis, with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky criticising them as being “uncooperative and uninterested in anything except political posturing”.But for many residents here in Mr Martínez’s hometown, San Martín, the heated political battle in Washington has barely registered, and President Trump’s repeated efforts to block migrants have had little impact on the decision to make the perilous journey.“He can say what he wants — that he’s going to put up a wall of I-don’t-know-how-many metres,” said José Alemán, 48, a partner in a local car washing business. “But they keep going.”The death of Mr Martínez and his daughter has given an urgent and poignant face to a major driver of migration from Central America and elsewhere: economic duress.Much attention in recent years has been given to the rampant violence that has compelled so many Salvadorans and residents of neighbouring Guatemala and Honduras to head north.But perhaps a bigger impetus, officials and residents here say, has been economics, especially poverty and the lack of good jobs.The Martínez family made it as far as the northern Mexican border city of Matamoros last weekend, where, according to relatives, they hoped to cross into the United States and apply for asylum.Told the bridge was closed, however, they decided to ford the Rio Grande on Sunday afternoon instead.Mr Martínez went ahead with the couple’s daughter, carrying her on his back, tucked under his T-shirt. His wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, followed behind, riding on the back of a family friend, she told Mexican officials.As Mr Martínez, carrying their daughter, approached the opposite bank, he was visibly tiring in the rough water, Ms Ávalos told the authorities. Unnerved, she decided to swim back to the Mexican side, but she saw her husband and daughter, close to the American riverbank, sink into the water and get swept away.“I didn’t want them to go,” Ms Ramírez, Martínez’s mother, said this week in an interview at the small, two-bedroom row house she had shared with her son and his family. “But they didn’t take my advice.”It remains unclear how the Martínez family intended to argue their case for asylum, or whether they even understood the legal basis for gaining such protection. Ms Ávalos did not respond to requests for an interview.But Mr Ramírez repeatedly said her son and his family were not fleeing persecution or the threat of it — requirements for gaining asylum in the United States.They migrated “only because of the economic situation”, she said. “Lamentably, the salaries here are very little and they aren’t enough,” she added, speaking softly.Mr Trump has railed against what he calls rampant asylum fraud, and he has imposed restrictions on the system in an effort to curb abuse — measures that human rights and migrants’ advocates say have imperilled the lives of asylum-seekers who have legitimate claims.Residents and officials here say a gang dominates the neighbourhood, Altavista.But Ms Ramírez and another relative said the immediate family had not been directly imperilled by the gang.Instead, like so many others here and throughout the working class of El Salvador, the family was struggling to get by, living on the edge of poverty.“There isn’t opportunity, there’s no work,” said Víctor Manuel Rivera, the mayor of San Martín. He estimated that about 50 per cent of the municipality’s residents with a high school degree are unemployed.“Every day I hear it: ‘I’m leaving for the United States’,” he said.People here talk about “la situación” — the situation — shorthand for the economic struggle many face. The counterpoint is often simple: “the American dream”.“It hasn’t occurred to me to leave for there,” said Salvador Humberto Andrade Torres, 59, a neighbour of the Martínez family, referring to the United States. “But it occurs to a lot of people.”Officials described the neighbourhood — indeed, the entire municipality of San Martín — as a de facto “bedroom community”, with many residents commuting on average about two hours each way to work in the capital, San Salvador.Mr Martínez and Ms Ávalos, however, worked relatively close to their home, family members said — she in a Chinese fast-food restaurant at a middle-class mall, and he at various branches of the Papa John’s pizza chain.But the couple, even though they were sharing household expenses with Ms Ramírez and her partner, were having a hard time on their salaries of about $ 300 (£236) a month.Last autumn, they started talking about migrating to the United States.Most of those who migrate are young, as has been the case for generations.But in recent years, the municipality has seen a sharp increase in the number of families migrating, too, part of a wave of family migration from Central America towards the United States.Ms Ramírez said she spoke with her son from time to time as the family made its northward trek, but he did not reveal many details.“I would ask him and he said, ‘We’re fine, we’re fine,’” she recalled.The farewell had been subdued. The family gathered for a simple, Sunday meal one afternoon last spring. Ms Ramírez prepared beef stew — “they love that”, she said.Several days later, as she headed to her night shift at the garment factory where she works, Ms Ramírez said one last goodbye to her son and his family.When she returned in the morning, they were gone.Ms Ramírez remembered her son as a loyal, doting father and “a responsible, friendly, respectful son”.Her granddaughter, Angie Valeria, Ms Ramírez recalled, was “happy, intelligent”.As she spoke, she sat on a worn sofa covered in a sheet decorated with the images of princesses from animated Disney films. A single bare light bulb illuminated the room, a few ceramic butterflies adorned the walls.After the bodies were discovered on Monday, Ms Ramírez found herself scrolling through the photos of her son and granddaughter on her phone. Her daughter eventually erased them to spare her the pain.“I would feel bad when I looked at them,” Ms Ramírez said.It is an agony that she hopes others will never have to suffer.“Don’t risk the lives of your children,” she said, hoping to warn others against setting off on the potentially dangerous journey to the American border. “Those who are thinking about this, don’t do it.”“I’d prefer to live here, in poverty, than risk my life,” she added. “But we don’t all think the same way.”The New York Times



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Biden Sorry He Didn’t ‘Understand’ How Accusers Felt, Will ‘Change’ How He Campaigns

Biden Sorry He Didn’t ‘Understand’ How Accusers Felt, Will ‘Change’ How He CampaignsFormer vice president Joe Biden on Friday addressed the recent accusations of women who say he invaded their personal space, first joking about the allegations onstage during an address to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before apologizing and admitting that he will “change” how he campaigns in light of the claims.“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said after embracing the IBEW president on stage. He went on to repeat the joke moments later while placing his arm around a boy who was standing beside him onstage. “He gave me permission to touch him,” Biden said.Following his speech, Biden spoke to reporters and apologized for failing to comprehend how his actions might affect women while stipulating that it was never his intention to make anyone uncomfortable.“I am sorry I didn't understand more,” Biden said when asked about the recent allegations. “I am not sorry for any of my intentions. I am not sorry for anything that I have ever done — I've never been disrespectful, intentionally, to a man or a woman. That's not the reputation I've had since I was in high school, for God's sake.”While he hasn't officially announced his entry into the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field, Biden all but admitted he will be entering the race soon and said the allegations will “change” the way he campaigns.“I'm going to have to change how I campaign,” he told reporters. “I'm told by the lawyers I've gotta be careful what I say so I don't start the clock ticking and change my status,” he later added, referencing the financial disclosures and other requirements that must be met once a candidate officially announces.The remarks come one week after Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman, accused Biden of approaching her from behind, smelling her hair, and kissing her on the neck without her consent during a 2014 campaign event. Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, then told the Hartford Courant that Biden pulled her face toward his and rubbed his nose against hers during a fundraiser in 2009.



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NASA explains why it didn’t have enough space suits for an all-female spacewalk

NASA explains why it didn’t have enough space suits for an all-female spacewalkThis was supposed to be a history-making week for NASA, with the first all-female spacewalk originally planned to take place on Friday. Unfortunately, a last-second swap has led to one of the expected participants, Anne McClain, being replaced with fellow ISS inhabitant Nick Hague.NASA's explanation was that McClain wouldn't have a space suit available to her for the spacewalk due to sizing, since Christina Koch will be wearing the medium-sized suit that McClain wore during her previous spacewalk last week. This left a lot of people scratching their heads. After all, NASA says there's two of every size of space suit on board the ISS, so why can't both McClain and Koch wear the same sized suits? Speaking with CNN, NASA representatives offered a deeper explanation.The lengthy discussion reveals some of the quirks of life aboard the International Space Station, as well as some insight into how human bodies change once they are in space.While still back on Earth, McClain had trained in both the large and medium sized suits. Originally, NASA was planning on having McClain wear the larger sized suit while Koch would wear the medium rig. However, during McClain's recent spacewalk it became clear that the medium sized suit fit her body better in space, which left NASA in a bit of a pickle.NASA has two of each size of space suit on the ISS, but only one of them is fully outfitted and ready to use at any given time. The other suits, which are considered backups, can't be pulled out and used immediately, and they must be prepped for use in space.NASA's Brandi Dean explains it like this:> We do our best to anticipate the spacesuit sizes that each astronaut will need, based on the spacesuit size they wore in training on the ground, and in some cases (including Anne McClain's) astronauts train in multiple sizes. However, individuals' sizing needs may change when they are on orbit, in response to the changes living in microgravity can bring about in a body. In addition, no one training environment can fully simulate performing a spacewalk in microgravity, and an individual may find that their sizing preferences change in space.Training in various space suits on Earth can't adequately predict what suit will fit you better in space, and in this case the time crunch between the two spacewalks has forced NASA to replace McClain with Hague. It's obviously a bummer for McClain, but nobody wants to be floating around in space in a suit that doesn't fit.



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Barr Didn’t Answer These 16 Questions. Mueller’s Report Could

Barr Didn’t Answer These 16 Questions. Mueller’s Report CouldBarr delivered a verdict on it in 48 hours, leaving many questions unanswered. Many of those could be revealed when Barr releases a more detailed accounting of Mueller’s probe in a matter of weeks, not months, a Justice Department official said. 1. Why didn’t Mueller reach a finding on whether Trump tried to obstruct justice?



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Chris Watts confesses to killing daughters for first time: 'I didn’t want to do this, but I did it'

Chris Watts confesses to killing daughters for first time: 'I didn’t want to do this, but I did it'Christopher Watts drove his daughters to an oil site after killing wife, Shanann, in their Colorado home, Watts recently told investigators.



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What Amazon Didn’t Get From New York

What Amazon Didn’t Get From New YorkMy view is that local governments overuse such subsidies. Consider, by way of illustration, entitlement and discretionary spending on the federal level. Much of discretionary spending, by contrast, is research grants and procurement contracts.



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