Three weeks after the Republican National Committee cut ties with Roy Moore, after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers, the group is supporting him again, according to a senior RNC official.

The reversal came just hours after Donald Trump announced his endorsement of the Alabama Republican, who is running for the Senate seat vacated by the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, urging Moore in a phone call: “Go get ’em, Roy.”

In November, the RNC pulled out of a joint fundraising agreement with Moore after two women came forward to allege that he had sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. Leigh Corfman told the Washington Post Moore made her touch his genitals when she was 14 and, in a press conference, Beverly Young Nelson claimed that Moore assaulted her in a car, grabbed her breasts and forced her head down towards his crotch.

Other women said that Moore either dated them or tried to date them when they were teenagers.

The Senate candidate has denied the allegations and painted them as part of a conspiracy that includes “lesbians, gays, bisexuals and socialists”.

The news, first reported by the rightwing website Breitbart, came shortly after the Washington Post reported that Debbie Wesson Gibson, who said she dated Moore when she was 17 years old, produced new evidence of their involvement, including a signed high school yearbook.

Gibson said her relationship with Moore was proper but said she felt compelled to share the documentation after he claimed he did not know any of the women who came forward.

The Moore campaign said in response to the new allegations: “Roy Moore already said he knew Debbie Wesson and her family but did not recall any formal dates. Furthermore, when he stated that he did not know any of the women, he was referring to those who accused him of sexual assault.”

The campaign went on to claim that the Washington Post was trying to undermine their candidate and “write yet another story to distract from Doug Jones’ extremist liberal record”.

Moore said at a campaign event last week in Alabama: “I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

He had previously said in an interview with Sean Hannity of Gibson: “I know her but I don’t remember going out on dates. I knew her as a friend.”

Moore also said in that interview, “I don’t remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”

Although the RNC reversed its decision not to back Moore, other prominent Republicans have yet to embrace him.

Richard Shelby, Alabama’s incumbent Republican senator, told reporters last week that he had written in an alternative candidate instead of voting for Moore. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, majority leader Mitch McConnell’s political arm, is still refusing to back Moore.

The Moore campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the RNC’s renewed involvement in the race.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee whose niece is the RNC chair, tweeted earlier on Monday: “Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

Moore was also accused of making antisemitic remarks on Monday, after reportedly criticising the billionaire philanthropist George Soros in an interview with the Christian evangelical radio network American Family Radio.

According to an apparent transcript of the interview posted by a Los Angeles-based Fox News producer, Dan Gallo, Moore described Soros’s agenda as “not American culture” and said he “comes from another world that I don’t identify with”.

According to Gallo, Moore went on to say: “No matter how much money he’s got, he’s still going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going.”

The election for the Alabama Senate seat will be held on 12 December. Polls currently show Moore in a tight race against Democrat Doug Jones.

  • Additional reporting by Peter Beaumont

A Florida Republican who’s helping President Donald Trump undermine the special counsel probe told Fox News that lawmakers are planning more intense scrutiny of the FBI.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has described special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as a “coup d’état” against Trump, and he co-sponsored a non-binding resolution in November calling for the former FBI director to resign from the probe over alleged bias.

The president tweeted Monday morning that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, former FBI director James Comey and unspecified “others” be prosecuted and jailed for their handling or investigation of the former Secretary of State’s emails — and Gaetz agreed Comey’s actions warranted further investigation.

“When you have an exoneration statement drafted before the very meat of the investigation is conducted, it certainly raises questions as to the integrity in that investigation,” Gaetz told Fox News, which also promoted a right-wing website report about Abedin that seemingly prompted Trump’s tweet.

“You have to wonder if the FBI no longer trusted the Department of Justice as a consequence of the tarmac meeting between (then-Attorney General) Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton,” Gaetz continued. “Why would the FBI allow the Department of Justice to then control access to people and access to evidence that they would need in this particular case?”

The congressman also took aim at deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whom Republicans have slurred as a partisan operative against the president.

“There (are) a number of inconsistencies that I certainly saw from the testimony that Andrew McCabe has given over time to the Congress, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Andrew McCabe announced his retirement from the FBI just days after providing sworn testimony to the Judiciary Committee,” Gaetz said. “So in 2018, expect more depositions, more sworn testimony and a real expectation from the Congress that the Department of Justice and FBI will comply with the subpoenas that we have sent them. Our patience is wearing thin.”

.@mattgaetz on latest reports in Clinton email probe: “In 2018 expect more depositions, more sworn testimony…our patience is wearing thin.” pic.twitter.com/JW8O3Szu2P

— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) January 2, 2018

Malcolm Jenkins, the Philadelphia Eagles safety and face of the Players Coalition, said this week that he would end his practice of raising his right fist during the playing of the star-spangled banner, after the NFL agreed to provide $89m to programs promoting the goals the coalition wants to achieve.

While there is so much to write about the details surrounding the deal struck between the Players Coalition and the NFL, I want to focus on Malcolm Jenkins and why I agree with his abandonment of raising his fist during the playing of the national anthem. To do so I’m going to, as he posted on Twitter, go back to “where we began” for him (and the Players Coalition) – his ride along with the Philadelphia police department.

While combing over the comments made by Jenkins in the article attached to his 30 November tweet, where he reminded followers about his entry point into fighting for social justice, Jenkins admits that “luckily” he had “very, very few interactions with officers” in his life.

This is an anomaly in the lives of many black people in America, and specifically in Philadelphia.

A recent study shows us that predominately black neighborhoods in Philadelphia drew 70% more frisks than non-black areas, yet yielded less contraband, and that the elevated rate of frisking was consistent regardless of whether the majority black neighborhood was a high-crime area or a very low-crime area.

Jenkins said: “There’s tons of people outside, but nobody wants to get involved. They don’t feel like the police are there to protect them, so they don’t give information. The officers are mad because they’re trying to clean up the streets … but there’s no cooperation. It was an eye-opening experience”.

Maybe, “the people” disproportionately policed in Philadelphia don’t feel like the officers are there to better their communities, not only because of rampant racially biased stop-and-frisk tactics.

The forgotten police bombing of a Philadelphia pro-black group

Maybe many of those residents remember 13 May 1985, when the police dropped a bomb in a west Philadelphia neighborhood, leaving residents like Steve Harmon retelling the terror saying: “Drop a bomb on a residential area? I never in my life heard of that. It’s like Vietnam”.

No. It was not Vietnam. It was a black neighborhood in America. The bombs were dropped on the black liberation group Move, and any other non-Move affiliated children, women and men in the vicinity.

Move members were often photographed raising their black fist.

Conceivably, Jenkins was unaware of the historical significance of raising the black fist as a symbol of resistance, strength and solidarity in the face of oppression.

While raising a black fist will always be connected to the iconic image of athlete-activists Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, it will also always be associated with the Black Panther party for self-defense (BPP) – a group that was seen by J Edgar Hoover as “without question … the greatest threat to internal security of the country” for providing impoverished youths with hot meals via their Free Children’s Breakfast Program.

We are also talking about the same Black Panther party that was known for exercising their second amendment rights, and taking up arms in defense against police brutality, as they would regularly show up during police encounters with members of the black community, stand at a legal distance, and surveil their interactions to ensure that nothing illegal would take place.

The Black Panthers (and others raising their black fist as a political symbol) did not do ride-alongs with the police – they policed the police, or rode in police cars involuntarily, because they were arrested.

I did not write this piece to frame Jenkins as “sell-out”. No, on the contrary, I thank him for no longer raising his fist as a sign of protest. The historical associations of that gesture with regards to black protest are not reflective of the politics he has displayed.

Because as Malcolm Jenkins has made apparent, his most “eye opening experiences” during the past two years have been participating in a ride along with the police, meeting with members of Congress in Washington DC and most recently striking an $89m partnering with the NFL owners.

I am not passing judgment, but clearly these moves are in no way aligned with individuals and groups like the Black Panther party, which argued that the economic and political roots of racism were tethered to (what they believed was) the exploitative nature of capitalist systems, and that the black struggle for liberation must be a revolutionary movement to overthrow the entire power structure in order to secure true freedom.

Jenkins rode with the police, partnered with wealthy billionaire, capitalist NFL owners, and is working with Congress – those are not black-fist raising actions. That’s why I am pleased to see Jenkins no longer raising his fist.

  • Ameer Hasan Loggins is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley

Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador in a rare public rebuke after Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to Islamabad over its “lies” about militancy.

David Hale was asked to attend the foreign ministry on Monday night, after Islamabad responded angrily to the US President’s allegations that it provided safe havens for militants — the latest dispute to rock their alliance.

A US embassy spokesman confirmed Tuesday Hale met officials but had no comment on what was said.

There was no immediate response from foreign ministry officials. But Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi convened a National Security Council meeting later Tuesday attended by the powerful military chief and other senior military and government officials, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Trump used his first tweet of 2018 to tear into Islamabad.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” he said.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistan hit back swiftly, saying it had done much for the United States, helping it to “decimate” Al-Qaeda, while getting only “invective & mistrust” in return. The angry comments came from its foreign and defence ministers.

Trump’s tweet offered no further details. He first hinted at cutting aid to Pakistan in an August speech charting his Afghan policy, and administration officials including Vice President Mike Pence have also intimated cuts in recent months.

Observers said that without further information the tweet could just be more hot air between the allies, whose often fractious relationship has taken a nosedive under Trump.

“Trump is in the habit of issuing hardline statements which only spoil the atmosphere and violate diplomatic niceties,” analyst Hasan Askari told AFP, adding that Pakistan should seek more information.

“It will only add to the acrimony that has crept into the bilateral relationship after Trump’s arrival in the White House,” another analyst, Imtiaz Gul, told AFP.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Washington forged a strategic alliance with Islamabad to help in its fight against militancy.

But Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of supporting militant groups including the Taliban, believed to have links to Pakistan’s shadowy military establishment which aims to use them in Afghanistan as a regional bulwark against arch-nemesis India.

Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations, lambasting the US for ignoring the thousands who have been killed on Pakistani soil and the billions spent fighting extremists.

On Tuesday China, which has stepped up a multi-billion dollar economic investment in Pakistan, spoke out in its defence, with a foreign ministry spokesman praising its “outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter-terrorism”.

– ‘Harsh’ response –

Trump’s August speech, in which he accused Islamabad of harbouring “agents of chaos”, triggered a series of high-level diplomatic meetings in the US and Pakistan.

The Trump administration also told Congress in August it was weighing whether to withhold $255 million in earmarked aid to Islamabad over its failure to crack down more effectively on terror groups.

But Islamabad has given few signs of concessions.

Of foremost concern in the US is Islamabad’s attitude toward the powerful Haqqani network, whose leader Sirajuddin Haqqani is the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban.

The group is accused of some of the most lethal attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, and was dubbed by America’s former top military officer Mike Mullen as a “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.

For many years it found safe haven in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal areas.

However the Pakistani military launched an operation there in 2014, and now insists it has eradicated all safe havens in the country.

For Pakistan, analyst Gul noted, the assumption is that arch-rival and fellow nuclear power India is fuelling Trump’s hostility towards Islamabad.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country, offering millions in aid and training security forces.

Trump and other administration officials have called on India to become more involved in Afghanistan — an idea that is anathema to Pakistan, which fears encirclement.

“Now Pakistan’s first attempt will be to neutralise India’s narrative of Pakistan,” Gul said.

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., declined to discuss with lawmakers on Wednesday a conversation he had with his father about emails related to a June 2016 meeting he attended with Trump associates and Russians, a congressional panel member said.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigating allegations of Russian interference in last year’s U.S. election, said Trump Jr. answered the “overwhelming majority” of questions from committee members in his hours of testimony.

But Trump Jr. claimed attorney-client privilege in declining to respond to queries about that discussion with his father because a lawyer was in the room when it took place. The discussion between then-Republican candidate Trump and his son took place after the emails became public, Schiff said. Trump Jr. released the emails in July.

“In my view there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son,” Schiff told reporters after the closed-door testimony had ended.

“We will be following up with his counsel,” Schiff said.

Representative Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation, said Trump Jr. had answered all of his questions.

“Mr Trump was cooperative at all times,” Conaway said.

Trump Jr. arrived and left without being seen by reporters.

Lawmakers said they want to question him about a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York at which he had said he hoped to get information about the “fitness, character and qualifications” of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who was his father’s presidential election opponent.

It was at least the second time Trump Jr. has testified to a congressional committee investigating any Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with Moscow by the Trump campaign.

He arrived shortly before 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) and was questioned for most of the next eight hours by members of the intelligence panel.

A person familiar with knowledge of Trump Jr’s testimony said Trump had said repeatedly he did not remember things he was asked about, including some details about information provided by Russians during the Trump Tower meeting.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating. He has announced the first charges of Trump associates, and Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

The House intelligence panel also released on Wednesday a transcript of testimony last week of Erik Prince, a Trump supporter and founder of the Blackwater military contractor. A focus of that testimony was a report that Prince tried to set up a “back channel” for communications between Trump associates and Russia. Prince denied such a plan.

REPUBLICANS CRITICIZE PROBES

Trump Jr.’s appearance coincided with criticism of the Russia probes from some of his father’s fellow Republicans, who control both houses of Congress and accuse investigators of bias against Trump. Other lawmakers, Republicans as well as Democrats, say the goal of the investigations is to guarantee the integrity of U.S. elections, not to target Trump and his associates.

Trump Jr., like his father, denies collusion with Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 campaign to boost Trump’s chances of defeating Clinton. Moscow denies any such effort.

Some Republicans criticized Mueller, the FBI and the Department of Justice at a news conference on Wednesday, ahead of congressional testimony on Thursday by the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray.

Republican House members accused the Justice Department and the FBI of bias against the president and having been too easy on Clinton during the investigation of her use of a private email server while leading the State Department.

However, Clinton has made no secret of her belief that then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement just before the election that the bureau was investigating potential new evidence in the lengthy email probe cost her the White House.

Also on Wednesday, Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced a hearing next week with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, citing “serious concerns” about reports on the political motives of staff on Mueller’s team.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

Brutal winter weather that has brought subzero temperatures to parts of the US and has been blamed for at least 12 deaths was threatening on Wednesday to dump snow and ice across parts of the south that rarely see flurries, much less accumulation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain was expected mainly along the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to North Carolina. It warned that icy roads and low visibility could make driving treacherous.

In Savannah, a coastal city that has not seen measurable snowfall since February 2010, up to 2in (5cm) of snow and sleet were forecast. As city officials filled dump trucks with sand to spread on major streets, the mayor, Eddie DeLoach, urged residents to stay home and keep off the roads.

“The streets will be slick,” DeLoach told a news conference on Tuesday. “We could have some serious issues for folks who aren’t used to driving in this kind of weather.”

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia declared a state of emergency through Friday for 28 counties because of the frigid weather. The weather service said up to 1in (2.5cm) of snow could fall as far south as Tallahassee, Florida. Snow began falling in Tallahassee early on Wednesday – a rare occurrence in the Florida city. Accumulation of 3in to 5in (8cm to 13cm) was possible in eastern North Carolina.

In central Florida, the state’s largest theme parks announced that water attractions such as Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay and SeaWorld’s Aquatica were closed on Wednesday because of the cold snap.

A handout photo made available on 2 January by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) shows the Arctic cold that extends through Canada into the United States.
A handout photo made available on 2 January by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) shows the Arctic cold that extends through Canada into the United States. Photograph: Noaa / Handout/EPA

In Brunswick, Georgia, on the Atlantic coast, law enforcement agencies reported freezing rain and ice on bridges early on Wednesday in south Georgia as a winter storm revved up along the east coast. Brunswick police reported on their official Twitter account that area bridges had begun to ice up.

The icy conditions were also hampering early morning travel in Florida, as authorities were forced to shut a stretch of Interstate 10 east of Tallahassee.

In Atlanta, where the temperature fell to 13F (-11C) before dawn on Tuesday, Dr Brooks Moore, associate medical director in the emergency department of Grady Health System, said: “We have a group of patients who are coming in off the street who are looking to escape the cold – we have dozens and dozens of those every day.”

Warming shelters were opened across the south as freeze watches and warnings blanketed the region, including hard freeze warnings for much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The thing that makes it so frustrating to watch the amnesiac cable news industry is their inability to admit they ever got it wrong, or to take responsibility for getting it wrong. Hell, I'd settle for them changing their approach occasionally! (Remember all their snide comments about the "overprepared" Hillary Clinton? Good times!)

So the Morning Joe bunch was bemoaning the latest "mine's bigger" exchange between giant manbaby Trump and shorter manbaby Kim Jong-un.

Katty Kay opened the discussion.

"In his New Year's Eve address, Kim Jong-un said the whole territory is within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button 'is always on the desk of my office. This is just a reality. Not a threat,' " she said.

Trump responded thusly:

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018

"Well, you know, it's uncomfortable to talk about, but he puts stability on the table, I think at an issue. his stability. the president of the united states, his stability. I mean, issuing a tweet like that potentially talking about nuclear war. I mean, c'mon," Mark Barnicle said.

"John, how big your button?" Kay asked.

"I think it's interesting that Alex put up that clip with him from that debate, because when it happened that debate, two years ago, you saw Trump talking in that way, people made the obvious references, it was a joke. and if you cast your mind forward at the time, you thought, people would in kind of a caricature way say a president, somebody on a presidential debate stage talking about his genitals, the size of his package on television, that person is obviously -- where could that lead?" Heilmann said.

"He could, if he ever got in the Oval Office, you could be talking about nuclear war in this context. Well, people would laugh at you. Of course, if he got in the Oval Office, this is not the way he would behave. This was antics, this is how you get attention at a Fox News debate. Here we are two years later, the man is talking about the size of his button on the topic of nuclear war. I agree with Mike, obviously, we have been talking about the stability of the president for a while. That's not a new topic. This re-raises the topic. We are now at the point where the convergence of his inadequacies, his anxieties, his neuroses, his potential mental stability has now intersected with the single most dangerous potential issue that faces us all as humans."


DanielBendjy/Getty

Transgender service members are celebrating a win in the courts this week. On Monday, a district judge in Washington, DC, ruled that come January 1, the military must start accepting new recruits who are openly transgender. It’ll be a first in the history of our armed services—if the Trump administration doesn’t find a way to block the order before then. And according to Aaron Belkin, the director of a think tank called the Palm Center that focuses on LGBT military issues, that’s a big “if.”

Belkin says it’s not a question of whether the military is ready and able to accept new trans recruits: Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon started training hundreds of staffers on how to evaluate incoming trans candidates, and it has already refined its policies on how to accommodate them. But the Trump administration has signaled that it’s not ready to stop fighting to keep them out.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s new ruling about their enlistment is only a temporary injunction, as multiple lawsuits over President Donald Trump’s military policies wind their way through the courts. “It’s a very fluid environment with a lot of uncertainty,” says Belkin. “You can see policies shifting back and forth between extremes, as was the case at the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I caught up Belkin about why hopeful transgender recruits may still be holding their breaths as we approach January 1.

  • The Trump administration could try to block their enlistment by appealing the injunction: To do so, it would need to argue that the judge’s reasoning for the injunction wasn’t justified, which “would take at the very least several months to play out,” says Belkin.
  • It could also try to stay the injunction, which would allow the Pentagon to enforce the president’s ban: This would be a quicker process, but potentially tricky. The government would need to argue that openly transgender troops and new recruits harm the military in a significant way, even though, as Belkin points out, the military decided back in 2016 that an inclusive policy would improve its readiness.
  • Trump could pull a bait and switch, à la the Muslim ban: “In the same way the White House tried to invalidate court rulings by slightly changing its formulation of the Muslim ban, in theory, the White House could try to moot the injunctions and force the litigators to restart the litigation process from scratch by altering the contours of the [transgender military] ban,” Belkin says.
US President-elect Donald Trump gives the thumbs up after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

As sugar plums dance through the heads of Republicans over the thought of finally putting their tax bill on the desk of Donald Trump, the numbers are in:

x

Two polls of GOP tax plan today with near identical results.

Gallup: 29% approve, 56% disapprove

Quinnipiac: 29% approve, 53% disapprove

— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) December 5, 2017

Just as Donald Trump predicted of voters:

"The more they learn about it the more popular it becomes."

Wow, congrats! Republicans assembled a bill that helps only a small but very rich percentage of the population and guess what? Most voters seem quite aware that they have been written out of the bill’s major benefits.

In addition, the Quinnipiac poll finds that the GOP tax bill has pushed the electorate toward favoring Democrats to handle taxes by 8 points, after being evenly divided on the matter in August. In fact, voters like Democrats on a lot of issues these days.

  • Voters say 55 - 32 percent that the Democratic Party can do a better job on health care
  • Voters say 56 - 34 percent that Democrats can do a better job "fighting for the working class"
  • Voters say 51 - 37 percent that Democrats can do a better job "representing your values”

Finally, a majority of voters say Trump is unfit for office, 54 - 40 percent, tying his all-time low.

"Deeply unpopular and manifestly unfit for the job. That's the harsh assessment of President Donald Trump, whose tax plan is considered built for the rich at the expense of the rest," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

The House on Wednesday voted to stop an effort by some Democrats to impeach Donald Trump.

A total of 58 Democrats voted to move forward on articles of impeachment brought by congressman Al Green, a Democrat of Texas. Another four voted “present”, a vote indicating neither for nor against.

In his resolution, Green said Trump’s “association” with white nationalism, neo-Nazism and his incitement of hatred and hostility was evidence that he was not fit to occupy the Oval Office. The resolution did not make reference to the Russia inquiry.

“I have a low tolerance for bigotry,” Green said in an interview after the vote. “I don’t think that obstruction of justice is more important to this country than racism, xenophobia, the hatred and the ugly behavior that’s coming from the White House. I think that we have for too long put hatred on the back burner.”

In the resolution, the congressman specifically referenced: Trump’s comments after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, when the president drew an equivalence between neo-Nazi demonstrators and liberal protesters; his decision last week to share three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group; and a list of statements he has made denigrating groups and individuals, including NFL players and congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

Wilson, who voted for the resolution, said “it felt sort of surreal” to be mentioned by name and that she was surprised to be included.

Green took the setback in stride, calling it a “step” in a long, protracted process. He said he was already drafting additional articles of impeachment but had not made a decision on when he will bring those forward.

The Texas Democrat said that he is grateful to his colleagues who voted against the motion and in favor of moving the resolution forward.

Asked if he knew in advance that so many Democrats would support the resolution, Green said he was equally surprised by the number of Democrats who did not.

“I didn’t have an indication that so many Democrats were going to vote for it,” Greens said.

Democratic leaders have for months sought to temper calls for Trump’s impeachment, arguing that the move would be premature given the continuing investigations into his campaign and administration led by congressional committees and the special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a statement before the vote, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, made that case.

“This president has made statements and taken actions that are beyond the pale for most Americans, embracing those who espouse hatred and division while promoting policies that would harm our economy and undermine our national security,” the Democrats said.

“Legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation. Right now, congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the president’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue.

“Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment.”

However, the No 3 Democrat in the House, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, voted to advance the impeachment process, as did a number of other prominent figures including Keith Ellison, the vice-chair of the DNC.

Wilson told the Guardian that a different impeachment resolution that mentioned Russia and Trump’s other legal issues would likely garner more support in the future.

The constitution of the United States provides that “the president, vice-president and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Impeachment requires a simple majority vote of the House and then the Senate serves as a jury to hear the case with a two-thirds vote required for removal from office.

Only two presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. However, neither were convicted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives could vote on impeachment resolutions. Nineteen elected officials in total have been impeached in American history and only eight have been convicted.

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Imaging What A New Diddy Kong Racing Might Look Like

Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was never able to escape that long shadow cast by Mario Kart. While the game got a remake for the DS, it never got a true successor. And if we’re being honest, it probably never will. Fortunately there’s a fan video to help fill the void left by its eternal absence.

Read more...

Foreign governments are granting Trump projects big favors to get what they want from...

President Donald Trump purportedly stepped away from his business interests for the duration of his term as president, but Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen says that foreign governments are granting favors and greasing the wheels for Trump-branded projects around the world.

Anita Kumar at McClatchy reported that the Indonesian government has chosen to build a new road to shorten the drive between the island chain’s main airport and the new Trump golf resort.

In Panama, the national government directly intervened in a lagging sewer project connected to the new Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The original contractor tasked with constructing the system went bankrupt, prompting the government to use its own money to construct sewage and water pipes connecting to the resort hotel.

“And in other countries,” Kumar wrote, “governments have donated public land, approved permits and eased environmental regulations for Trump-branded developments, creating a slew of potential conflicts as foreign leaders make investments that can be seen as gifts or attempts to gain access to the American president through his sprawling business empire.”

As Nguyen noted, all of this appears to place Trump squarely in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or anything that might be constituted as a bribe from foreign governments.

However, she said, “Just weeks after Trump won the election, the Argentinian government suddenly granted a permit for a long-delayed Trump Tower development in Buenos Aires. In September, Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners granted a company partially owned by the Chinese government a contract to build a road to Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, seemingly going against his pledge to not engage in foreign business transactions during his presidency. And, of course, there is the ongoing constitutional crisis that is the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C., which critics claim violates the Emoluments Clause on a regular basis.”

Two lawsuits have been brought against the Trump administration alleging these violations, one of which was dismissed by a judge just before Christmas.

Kumar spoke with Noah Bookbinder of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who said, “If you have a foreign government providing a benefit to the Trump company that is going to violate emoluments clause of the Constitution.”

The president is reportedly receiving boons to his projects — which he claims he handed over to the management of his sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump — from the governments of Uruguay, India and the Philippines.

Read the full McClatchy report here.

Mormon leader Thomas Monson dies aged 90

Thomas S Monson, who served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church for 50 years and became its president in 2008, has died. He was 90.

Monson was a church bishop at 22 and in 1963 the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever, at 36. He was a counselor for three church presidents before assuming leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M Nelson, 93, per church protocol.

Monson’s presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity, including the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. His most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

He will be remembered for continuing the religion’s push to be more transparent about its past; his emphasis on humanitarian work; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

He will also be remembered for leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of a gay marriage ban in California in 2008. At his urging, Mormons were vigorous campaign donors and volunteers. That prompted a backlash against the church that included vandalism of church buildings, protest marches and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide.

In subsequent years, the church began utilizing a softer tone on the issue. In 2015, the church backed an anti-discrimination law in Utah that gave unprecedented protections for gay and transgender people while also protecting religious freedoms.

But the religion came under fire again in the fall of 2015 when it banned baptisms for children living with gay parents and instituted a requirement that those children disavow homosexual relationships before being allowed to serve a mission. The changes were designed to avoid putting children in a tug-of-war between their parents and church teachings, leaders said.

Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the dedication of the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009.
Thomas Monson attends a corner stone laying ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple in Draper, Utah, in 2009. Photograph: George Frey/Reuters

The revisions triggered anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBTQ-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more love and understanding for LGBTQ members.

Monson also continued the church’s push to be more open about some of the most sensitive aspect of the faith’s history and doctrine. A renovated church history museum reopened in 2015 with an exhibit acknowledging the religion’s early polygamous practices, a year after the church published an essay that for the first time chronicled founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives.

Other church essays issued during Monson’s tenure addressed other sensitive topics: sacred undergarments worn by devout members; a past ban on black men in the lay clergy; and the misconception that Mormons are taught they will get their own planet in the afterlife.

The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the US. There were 71,000 church missionaries serving around the world at the end of 2016.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson often credited his mother, Gladys Condie Monson, for fostering his compassion. He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.

“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.

A second world war veteran, Monson served in the navy and spent a year overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of Utah and a master’s degree in business administration from the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Before being tabbed to join the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Monson worked for the church’s secular businesses, primarily in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning News.

He married Frances Beverly Johnson in 1948. The couple had three children, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85.

Monson was an avid fisherman who also raised homing pigeons, specifically, roller pigeons who twirled as they flew. He was known for his love of show tunes, Boy Scouts and the Utah Jazz.

The man expected to take Monson’s seat, the 93-year-old Nelson, has been a church apostle since April 1970. Nelson will choose two new counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve who will join him to form a three-person “presidency” that is the top of the religion’s governing hierarchy. Monson’s two counselors were Henry Eyring and Dieter Uchtdorf. They will go back to being regular members of the Quorum unless they are chosen again.

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How Donald Trump’s war on intelligence is destroying American national security

President Donald Trump’s insecurity over losing the popular vote and the salacious allegations in the Steele Dossier have prompted him to lash out at the intelligence community’s claims that Russia influenced the 2016 election. Now that war against the intelligence community is impacting American national security.

A Wednesday Washington Postreport revealed that the National Security Agency is hemorrhaging staff at an alarming rate. Some of these “highly skilled” staffers have become “disillusioned” with intelligence but the leadership and a reorganization effort under the new administration has sent many to update their resumes.

The work these experts do included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information. Yet, these staffers saying that they want a higher-paying job in the private sector or more flexible hours.

Since 2015, hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have bailed on the NSA, former officials said. Now it’s reaching a level that national security can be impacted. Of the 17 spy agencies, the NSA is the largest and they’re responsible for collecting the information that goes into the presidential daily briefing that Trump doesn’t understand. Over the first year in office, aides have even been forced to tailor the briefing so it doesn’t include anything about Russian interference in the election so as to not anger Trump.

“Some synonym of the word ‘epidemic’ is the best way to describe it,” said former NSA senior researcher Ellison Anne Williams. She left her job at the NSA in 2016 to start her own data-security firm and took 10 NSA staff with her. “The agency is losing an amazing amount of its strongest technical talent, and to lose your best and brightest staff is a huge hit.”

The agency won’t disclose the number of vacancies over the last year, but it said there is 5.6 percent decrease in staff who specialize in science, technology and math. The NSA isn’t the only place the Trump administration has implemented the right-wing war on science. In Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency, scientists became the enemy. Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was told never to say the words “climate change.” Losing the experts means new staff are filling the positions without the experience central to the NSA’s mission collecting huge swaths of data and analyzing it.

Former staff have complained that they felt their mission was marginalized by a restructuring of the agency. Others allege the reorganization was “an enormous distraction.” Some even call the pay structure and promotion program part of the problem. According to former staff, it prioritizes seniority over experience or expertise.

Another former employee alleged that the problems began with former contractor Edward Snowden and the arrest of former contractor Harold T. Martin III in 2016. Accessing data and information became more difficult for those trying to do their jobs. The witch hunt searching for leakers made things worse. An environment with collaboration has turned toward suspicion, a former staffer said.

“It comes down to death by a thousand cuts,” said a former employee, adding that people “tend to quit in packs. One person hits their breaking point, and once they leave, the dominoes start falling.”

NSA spokesman Tommy Groves didn’t discount the reports.

“If the price of security becomes that we drive away the very men and women that generate value in the first place, we now have a self-induced mission kill,” National Security Agency Director Administrator Michael Rogers said in a conference speech.

Trump’s attacks on the 17 intelligence agencies that confirmed the Russian interference couldn’t have made morale any better. After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump swore that Russia didn’t do it.

“He said he didn’t meddle, he said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters in November. “Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Trump has also waged a war with the FBI, calling it “tainted” and alleging it is part of the “deep state” shadow government.

“It is also a possible obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, and it’s obstructing justice by saying to agents, ‘you better not dig too deep, you better not find anything because I will attack you,'” former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said to MSNBC.

The only way to maintain staff is to tape into the sense of duty “for God and country,” said former threat operations center chief Daniel Ennis. He thinks the agency will recover, because it always has.