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|The Trump administration threatened 25% tariffs on European cars if Britain, Germany, and France didn't play ball on Iran
Trump previously used the threat of tariffs on European cars to extract additional investment into the US from its automakers.
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 8:15 AM
|Groom accused of sexually assaulting underage server at his wedding gets probation
A South Jersey man will serve six years of probation after admitting to indecent exposure and simple assault at his wedding venue.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 10:31 AM
|Bureaucracy to brutality: New evidence reveals IS hierarchy
Documents compiled by a U.S.-based Syrian rights group reveal how Islamic State militants used one of their most powerful bureaucratic bodies to regulate daily life and impose and execute penalties. The Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center said Thursday that the evidence — documents produced by IS itself — could help identify individuals responsible for atrocities during the militants' four-year reign of terror and lead to criminal prosecutions. The 24-page report, called “Judge, Jury and Executioner,” is based on dozens of documents obtained by SJAC from inside Syria and collected by a local activist from abandoned IS offices in Raqqa province, where the militants also had their self-declared capital in a city that carries the same name.
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 2:13 PM
|Jordan, Meadows Send Letter to FISA Court Questioning Kris Appointment
House Oversight Committee Republicans Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows issued nine demands to FISA Court presiding judge James Boasberg in a Thursday letter in response to the appointment of Obama Department of Justice lawyer David Kris to help oversee the FBI’s reform of FISA applications.The letter, obtained by National Review, asked Boasberg to identify who else besides Kris was considered, whether Kris’s past defense of the FISA application to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page was taken into account, and whether “the FISC bears any responsibility for the illegal surveillance of Carter Page,” among other concerns.“If the FISC’s goal is to hold the FBI accountable for its serious misconduct, Mr. Kris does not appear to be an objective — or likely effective — amicus curiae for several reasons,” the letter states. “At minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform.”A Republican official with knowledge of the letter told National Review that the letter signaled a concerted Congressional effort to reform FISA.“For too long, the FBI has remained largely un-checked when it comes to the FISA process. Congress must ensure that FISC stands ready to protect civil liberties without even the slightest indicia of political bias,” he said.The letter appears to be a follow-up to Monday comments from Meadows, who said in an interview that Republicans were “appealing this to the Judge” regarding Kris's appointment. The North Carolina Congressman also slammed the move to appoint Kris, saying that “there’s no way” Kris is the right man to address abuses “if he doesn’t even acknowledge that there is a problem.”Kris, a former assistant attorney general in the Obama DOJ’s national security division, has extensive experience with the FISA Court, serving as an amicus curiae, or special adviser, since March 2016.A frequent contributor to Lawfare blog, Kris was an outspoken defender of the FBI’s authority in surveilling Page, who was accused of being a Russian agent.Following the release of heavily-redacted FISA applications used to surveil Page in July 2018, Kris doubled down. “It seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg into the submerged parts and more is revealed, it will get worse, not better,” for Page, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow at the time. The letter references Kris's comment to Maddow as evidence that he is biased in favor of the bureau and against Page.DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz revealed in December that the FBI knowingly withheld information that Page was a CIA informant in order to obtain a FISA warrant against him, and even doctored an email to keep the information from the court. The report also revealed that the bureau did not inform the FISC of the partisan origins of the uncorroborated Steele dossier despite its playing a "central and essential" role in their application to surveil Page.In their letter, Jordan and Meadows also request that Boasberg give greater insight into the details surrounding the court’s assessment of the Page applications, including when it “first received any indication that information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page was misleading or false.”
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 3:10 PM
|Lev Parnas: Mike Pence Canceled Ukraine Visit in Quid Pro Quo
Lev Parnas, an indicted ex-associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accused President Donald Trump of lying about their relationship Wednesday night. And he said Giuliani told Ukrainian officials that Parnas spoke on behalf of the president. In an interview with Rachel Maddow for her MSNBC show, Parnas said that when he met with Ukrainian government officials, he would call Giuliani and put him on speaker. Giuliani would then tell the officials that Parnas was there on Trump’s behalf, he said. “It was never about corruption,” Parnas said. “It was strictly about Burisma, which includes Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”The Justice Department charged Parnas last year with a number of election-related crimes. He has maintained his innocence and is in the process of sharing materials with congressional investigators about Trumpworld’s efforts to secure political favors from Kyiv. Parnas detailed a conversation with Serhiy Shefir, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Parnas said Vice President Mike Pence would cancel a planned trip for Zelensky’s inauguration unless the incoming Ukrainian government announced it would investigate the Bidens. Parnas said that when he learned the Ukrainians were not going to announce a Biden probe, he told Giuliani.“I remember Rudy going, ‘OK, they’ll see,’” Parnas said. Pence’s trip was canceled the next day. Parnas also said that he saw Attorney General Bill Barr—who met with associates of Giuliani about indicted oligarch Dmytro Firtash—as a fellow traveler in the scheme. “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,” Parnas said. A Justice Department spokesperson, meanwhile, told Maddow the claim was “100 percent false.”Parnas also said he set up Skype interviews with Ukrainian officials for Derek Harvey, a senior aide to Rep. Devin Nunes. Parnas said Nunes and his team were helping with their scrutiny of the Bidens—claims Nunes has denied. “It’s hard to see them lie like that, when you know it’s like that,” Parnas said. “It’s scary.”“He knows who I am,” Parnas added of Nunes.Asked for comment as Parnas was speaking on MSNBC on Wednesday evening, Giuliani responded at first, “Are you kidding?” When asked for further elaboration, the Trump attorney messaged: “Very sad situation,” and: “He’s desperate and badly represented.” When pressed if Parnas was lying regarding recent allegations and documents turned over to the House Intelligence Committee, Giuliani only responded, “I’m not paying attention to him.” The Parnas comments came on the heels of another big TV interview. In a much-bleeped conversation with Trump ally Eric Bolling, the newest figure in the Trump impeachment saga tried to defend his ominous-sounding texts with Lev Parnas. That person, Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde, went on Bolling’s Sinclair show to answer questions about texts in which he claimed to know the physical location of American’s then-ambassador to Ukraine and to have information about her cellphone use. But he didn’t offer much of an explanation. (On Thursday, Ukraine government officials announced a criminal investigation into possible illegal surveillance of Yovanovitch.)“We sent some colorful texts,” he said. “You know, it’s kind of unfortunate that the left had to get their panties in a bunch.”Then Bolling asked if Hyde “had eyes on Marie Yovanovitch,” the former ambassador.“Absolutely not,” he replied. “Are you kidding me? I’m a little nasty [BLEEP], excuse my language. Come on, you know me, Eric.” Bolling expressed incredulity about the texts, triggering a rant from Hyde about “the left,” saying they were more offended by his texts than by the opioid crisis.He also made odd comments intimating that people warned him against talking to Parnas. “Listen, I was told a long time ago who Lev was by a lot of people down in communities throughout this country who would pull me aside, have meetings with me, and tell me to stay away from the guy,” he said. “Honestly, I was never a close associate with Lev Parnas. Did I like his character and did we have laughs and joke a bit? Of course. But to try to throw me under a bus somehow for joking around on WhatsApp? I’d love to see Adam Schiff’s texts on WhatsApp.”The texts in question, between Hyde and ex-Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, indicated he was surveilling Yovanovitch.“They know she’s a political puppet,” Hyde wrote to Parnas in the newly released texts. “They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money,” Hyde added. Meanwhile, in his Maddow interview, Parnas said he did not take apparent threats to Yovanovitch’s security seriously because he assumed Hyde was either making himself seem bigger than he was—or drunk when he was sending the WhatsApp messages.“When he sent me those, I got disturbed. I was like ‘Whoa, this is crazy’ and is this guy off the wall?” Parnas said, adding that his contact at the America First PAC said Hyde shouldn’t be taken seriously.Maddow pointed out the messages came over the course of an entire week—surely Hyde couldn’t have been intoxicated the whole time?“He’s drunk all of the time,’” Parnas said, laughing. “He wakes up and he’s drunk—he starts at 6... I’ve never seen him not drunk.”Parnas said that was the reason he did not believe the ambassador was truly under surveillance.“You didn’t worry that she was in physical danger?” Maddow asked.“Never. Never.”“Because you didn’t believe Mr. Hyde?”“No,” Parnas said laughing. “I definitely didn’t believe Mr. Hyde.”—With reporting from Asawin SuebsaengRead more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet 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.
POSTED JANUARY 15, 2020 8:25 PM
|Republican tells female reporter 30 schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with her
A Republican lawmaker is facing calls for a sexual harassment investigation after he told a young female reporter that a group of high school boys “could have a lot of fun” with her.Peter Lucido, a Michigan state senator, has been accused of making inappropriate comments to local reporter Allison Donahue during a tour of the state Capitol.
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 8:09 AM
|How China Is Practicing—and Perfecting—an Amphibious Invasion of Taiwan
It takes a lot of hard work.
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 4:00 PM
|Merkel to seek end to Huawei dispute in her conservative camp: sources
Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet senior conservative lawmakers on Thursday to resolve a dispute in her own party over whether to bar China's Huawei [HWT.UL] from the country's 5G network rollout, party sources said. Merkel's conservatives are divided on whether to support a proposal by their Social Democrat junior coalition partners that, if approved, would effectively shut out the Chinese technology giant from the network. Handelsblatt business daily was first to report on Wednesday the planned meeting between Merkel and senior conservative lawmakers.
POSTED JANUARY 15, 2020 6:44 PM
|Camera Captures the Moment a Deer Sheds Its Antlers in the Middle of the Night
If you blink you might miss it
POSTED JANUARY 16, 2020 10:21 AM
|An Iranian general said officials lied about shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet to defend national security
Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Iran's public lies about shooting down Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 were justifiable.
POSTED JANUARY 15, 2020 7:49 PM