FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
December 18, 2017
By Christian Lowe and Phil Stewart
MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States provided intelligence to Russia that helped thwart a potentially deadly bomb attack in St. Petersburg, U.S. and Russian officials said on Sunday, in a rare public show of cooperation despite deep strains between the two countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for the tip-off, which the Kremlin said helped prevent a militant bomb attack on a cathedral in the Russian city, as well as other sites.
The White House did not disclose details about the plot itself, but said the attack “could have killed large numbers of people.” Neither the Kremlin nor the White House identified the would-be attackers.
The U.S. warning allowed Russian law enforcement agencies to arrest the suspects before they could carry out their plans, the White House and Kremlin said.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have been damaged by disagreements over the wars in Ukraine and Syria, although Trump pledged during his election campaign to pursue better ties with Moscow.
That has been complicated by U.S. allegations – denied by Russia – that the Kremlin meddled in last year’s U.S. presidential election to help Trump win.
Russian officials say Putin believes Trump is not to blame for the tensions.
The phone call on Sunday between Trump and Putin was at least the second such call in the past week. On Thursday, Putin and Trump discussed the crisis in North Korea.
The foiled attack was to have been carried out on Kazansky Cathedral, in Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg, and on other locations in the city where large numbers of people gather, the Kremlin statement said. The cathedral is a popular tourist site.
The White House seized on the foiled plot in St. Petersburg as a sign of what Moscow and Washington could do if they cooperate.
“Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together,” the White House said, adding Trump appreciated the call from Putin.
Russian media reported last week that the Federal Security Service had detained followers of the Islamic State group who had been planning a suicide bomb attack on Kazansky Cathedral on Saturday.
Putin said Russia would alert U.S. authorities if it received information about any attack being planned on the United States, the Kremlin said.
Russia has repeatedly been the target of attacks by Islamist militant groups, including an attack in April that killed 14 people when an explosion tore through a train carriage in a metro tunnel in St. Petersburg.
Russian police detained several suspects in that attack from mainly Muslim states in ex-Soviet central Asia.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Peter Cooney)
Germany Formula One – F1 – German Grand Prix 2016 – Hockenheimring, Germany – 30/7/16 – Niki Lauda during the qualifying. REUTERS/Uli Deck/Pool
December 17, 2017
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Former motor racing driver Niki Lauda aims to bid for the Austrian Niki airline, which he founded in 2003, next Wednesday, he said in a newspaper report, formally adding himself to the list of interested parties.
“We will be able to submit an offer already on Wednesday,” he told the German business daily Handelsblatt in its Monday edition.
He said he had talked to the administrator of Niki’s insolvent parent company, Air Berlin <AB1.DE>, Frank Kebekus, on Friday, making him aware he was ready to act quickly.
Niki filed for insolvency last Wednesday.
On Saturday, German logistics firm Zeitfracht and maintenance group Nayak confirmed they were interested in some Niki assets, including Niki Technik, and crews.
Lauda also told Handelsblatt he would engage in the talks initially without British holiday group Thomas Cook <TCG.L>, also among the interested parties, in order to speed things up.
“But logically, I am contact with Thomas Cook and its (German) subsidiary Condor,” he added.
Irish low cost carrier Ryanair <RYA.I> has also expressed an interest in its assets.
Niki’s insolvency came after Germany’s Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> scrapped plans to buy the airline due to the European Commission’s competition concerns.
The administrators for Air Berlin have since been working to find a new buyer for Niki’s assets – which include valuable take off and landing slots in airports such as Duesseldorf, Munich and Vienna – under considerable time pressure in order to clinch a deal before Niki loses its slots.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert,; Editing by David Evans)
Here is a photo of John Cornyn. (Photo: Screen Shot/Youtube/John Cornyn/ABC)
12:39 PM 12/17/2017
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn believes it would be a mistake for President Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and defended the former FBI director in an interview Sunday.
The Texas Republican said firing Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, would be a mistake and said he does not believe Trump would do so on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I believe the president’s own lawyer says that’s not going to happen. I think that would be a mistake myself,” Cornyn said, referring to statements from White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb.
“There are plenty of FBI agents and prosecutors who have not been politically involved on behalf of Democrats or overtly critical who can serve in this important investigation,” he continued. “I have confidence in Director Mueller, I just think that he would be concerned about the appearance of conflicts of interest that would undermine the integrity of the investigation.”
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Alpine Skiing – Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup Super G – Val d´Isere, France – December 16, 2017 Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. celebrates after winning the Women’s Super G REUTERS/Robert Pratta
December 17, 2017
VAL D’ISERE, France (Reuters) – Olympic champion Anna Veith won her first race since suffering a serious knee injury more than two years ago when she took the Super G at Val d’Isere on Sunday while American Lindsey Vonn withdrew due to a sore knee.
Austrian Veith, skiing second, charged down the course in one minute 5.77 seconds, a time that none of the following skiers was able to get near.
Veith’s last win was in the giant slalom at Meribel in March 2015, the year she won the overall World Cup title for the second time.
She missed the whole of the 2015-16 season after suffering a serious knee injury and only returned to racing one year ago.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was second and Italian Sofia Goggia third.
“It’s really very emotional and difficult to describe,” Veith, close to tears, told Austrian broadcast ORF. “It’s something I dreamed about during the most difficult times.”
Vonn, who suffered a back injury which left her in enormous pain at St Moritz last week during another Super G race, said she wanted to concentrate her efforts on the Winter Olympics in Pyenongchang in February.
“Unfortunately I’m not racing today. Knee is a bit sore from yesterday so to be on the safe side I’m going to give my body some rest,” she said on Twitter.
“My focus is on the Olympics so no need to risk anything now. Still going home very happy after my win yesterday.”
Vonn’s win in Saturday’s Super G was her first since the downhill at Garmisch in January.
The finest woman skier of her generation, Vonn was downhill gold medalist at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 but missed the 2014 games in Sochi because of a knee injury.
The 33-year-old was also sidelined for 11 months after suffering a knee injury in Andorra in February, 2016 and broke her arm in training in Colorado the following November.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern,; editing by Ed Osmond)
A logo of Geely automobile company is seen on a car at the Belarusian-Chinese closed joint-stock company BelGee plant in Zhodino, Belarus November 18, 2017. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
December 17, 2017
By Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING (Reuters) – After a decade of development, often through buying or benchmarking foreign technology and know-how, Chinese automakers are looking with greater ambition at selling their cars in major Western markets.
Improvements in car design, technology and marketing at firms including Geely <0175.HK>, GAC Motor and Great Wall Motor <601633.SS> have brought them a bigger share in their home market, the world’s largest, and give them a better chance of survival in competitive markets in Europe and the United States.
Once distant dreams of staking a claim in Western strongholds may now be edging nearer.
“We have in the Western world an outrageous arrogance. We think we’re ahead. It’s going to change,” says Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of Lynk & Co, a new brand set up by Geely.
“China is passing you at a speed that in our arrogance we don’t even see,” Visser told Reuters earlier this month.
Hangzhou-based Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and Lotus and makes London black cabs, has its sights set on selling cars in Europe in 2019 and the United States a year later. The Lynk & Co brand, set up in Sweden with Volvo, will spearhead its attack.
Geely plans only to sell ‘green’ cars – conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models – in those markets, and would primarily sell through directly-owned stores and online rather than through traditional dealer franchises. It could also offer cars for rent via a subscription model similar to Netflix <NFLX.O> and Spotify.
GAC Motor, whose parent Guangzhou Automobile Group <601238.SS> partners Honda Motor <7267.T>, Toyota Motor <7203.T> and Fiat Chrysler <FCHA.MI> in China, may beat Geely to the U.S. market, eyeing entry by end-2019. But unlike Lynk & Co, GAC is more likely to sell through a traditional distribution network of franchised retail stores there.
It’s taken Chinese automakers years to get this far, and, to be sure, there will be significant road bumps.
“A key obstacle in markets like the United States is a consumer bias against Chinese-made goods,” said Jeff Cai, a Beijing-based senior director at JD Power & Associates. “Our research found most U.S. consumers think China is a third-world country that builds low-quality products.”
There’s also the thorny issue of China’s trade surplus with the United States – an imbalance high on U.S. President Donald Trump’s radar. Cars shipped in from China would likely increase that surplus.
SELLING DIRECT, ONLINE
Geely’s Lynk & Co aims to open its own flagship store in Berlin in the second half of 2019, and a similar outlet in San Francisco in 2020.
In some U.S. states, which don’t allow direct selling, Lynk & Co plans a subscription-based sales model, renting cars to consumers on contracts as short as a month. Those deals will include insurance, warranty and other benefits.
Visser says Lynk wants to test this unconventional retail model because it reckons around a quarter of revenue is lost through the traditional distribution business in dealer margins and discounting. He expects to recoup more than half those ‘losses’ by selling direct.
Some of those savings will be passed on to customers by selling Lynk & Co cars at a more affordable price, Visser said, adding Lynk & Co aims to sell 250,000 vehicles a year across Europe and the United States – though he gave no firm timescale for that.
In the United States, selling direct could put Lynk & Co on a collision course with the politically powerful National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the lobby group for franchise dealer operators.
While Visser says NADA has “unbelievable power”, he believes dealers will eventually come around to Lynk & Co’s retail model as it would likely be franchise dealers who get to service Lynk & Co cars, carrying out repairs and regular maintenance – and that’s where dealers make most money.
NO TRUMPCHI FOR U.S.
For its part, GAC Motor is looking at the possibility of building out its overseas presence from the U.S. northeast, two people close to the company said.
That region, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New York, is seen as being more open to foreign cars and to the sport-utility vehicles (SUV) that GAC Motor plans to sell, they said.
The company said it has not yet decided a U.S. entry point, but would more likely opt to build a sales network with franchise dealers or join an existing dealer group.
GAC Motor – which says it has developed rather than acquired its technologies – said it was conducting market research to determine the brand’s positioning and identify products for its U.S. business.
Its first U.S. offering is likely to be an SUV sold in China as the Trumpchi GS8. Given the political sensitivities, the model will be renamed for the U.S. market.
“We respect culture in the U.S. and understand there’s no precedence to use the current president’s name as a brand name,” the company said through a spokeswoman.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Joe White and Ian Geoghegan)
The television network NBC paid off a woman who accused host Chris Matthews of sexual harassment back in 1999, the Daily Caller has revealed.
According to internal sources, the network paid $40,000 to an assistant producer working on Matthews’ nightly political talk show, Hardball with Chris Mathews, although an NBC spokesperson later denied this and said she was paid a considerably smaller severance package instead.
The woman reportedly complained to company executives after Matthews made a series of “inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others.”
A network spokesperson confirmed that the situation was formally reviewed at the time and Matthews was given a warning, after executives determined that the comments were “inappropriate and juvenile” but did not have sexual intent.
It is not clear whether Matthews’ accuser left the company as a result of the allegations, although she has consequently gone on to work in a number of high-profile media positions.
Matthews, 71, is the latest high-profile figure at the NBC network to be implicated in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed major figures in politics, the media, and Hollywood.
Last month, NBC fired longtime anchor Matt Lauer of the Today Show over allegations of sexual misconduct that included claims he assaulted a female staffer and harassed a number of interns, script-runners, and bookers.
In October, the network also cut ties with special contributor Mark Halperin over a slew of allegations of sexual assault and harassment, while the network’s senior vice president Matt Zimmerman was also released for failing to report his sexual relationship with female employees.
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Aug 20, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Nate Diaz ()red gloves) during UFC 202 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
December 17, 2017
The Sports Xchange) – Forget about Conor McGregor stepping back into the boxing ring anytime soon. It appears that the 29-year-old will head back to fight in the octagon, not the squared circle.
After a Friday night on the town in New York, TMZ caught up with McGregor who said, “I think a true fight is what I want to do next. A real fight … MMA next.”
There had been talk of a McGregor-Manny Pacquiao fight, but that talk quickly ended when UFC president Dana White threatened to sue Pacquiao, according to ESPN. McGregor remains under contract with the UFC
The last time McGregor fought he stepped into the ring at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. He suffered a TKO loss on that August night, but many thought he performed admirably and might stay in boxing for more lucrative contracts.
The fight against Mayweather did 4.3 million buys, making it the second biggest fight in history.
McGregor scoffed at the idea of fighting in the WWE, using an expletive to say, no, he wasn’t going to follow in Ronda Rousey’s footsteps.
Good Saturday morning. OK, WE WERE WRONG. We said tax reform probably wouldn’t happen in 2017. It will. It’s a significant legislative victory for PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SPEAKER PAUL RYAN and SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL. Republicans tell us that they have to spend 2018 selling these tax cuts to the public, and hope that people feel the impact before the elections.
AROUND THE TAX HORN …
Story Continued Below
— BRIAN FALER, SEUNG MIN KIM and COLIN WILHELM: “The legislation would cut both business and individual taxes as part of the biggest tax revamp in 30 years. It is poised to be carved into law next week when Congress sends it to President Donald Trump for his signature. … House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers on a phone call that the House will vote on the plan Tuesday, before the Senate, according to a person on the call. …
“Along the way, lawmakers have been willing to accept things that, in the past, would have had them at each other’s throats. They’re settling for a much higher top individual income tax rate — 37 percent — than many wanted, and their plans to expand the child tax credit would effectively excuse millions of low-income people from paying federal income taxes. …
“Brady acknowledged that fixes would be necessary after it becomes law. ‘I can’t imagine any major undertaking like this that doesn’t require technical corrections in the future,’ he said.” http://politi.co/2BvK3fO
LOBBYISTS are already banking on the need for fixes to drive 2018 revenues. Multiple downtowners have said that companies hired them as a last ditch effort once the Senate bill passed and that their clients are ready to double down on a separate bill next year.
— “As a Must-Pass Republican Tax Bill Headed for the Finish Line, Rubio Saw an Opening,” by NYT’s Sheryl Stolberg: “A longtime champion of the working class, Mr. Rubio had tried in vain to secure a more generous tax break for lower-income Americans as Congress embarked on a sweeping rewrite of the federal tax code. On Thursday, with the hours winding down on a final version of the bill and a frantic push to pass it along party lines in a narrowly-divided Senate, Mr. Rubio took a stand: He threatened to vote no unless House and Senate negotiators expanded the child tax credit.
“It was a dramatic moment, as those on Capitol Hill and beyond wondered if Mr. Rubio was grandstanding, bluffing or both. But for Mr. Rubio, it was a natural extension of the promise he believes the Republican Party had made, and was in danger of abandoning, to look out for the little guy. ‘If you look at all the benefits that are flowing,’ particularly to multinational corporations, Mr. Rubio said in a telephone interview, ‘it was important to be able to go back and do more for working families.’” http://nyti.ms/2BxFHVi
— “Why Democrats failed to tank tax reform,” by Elana Schor and Heather Caygle: “While stripping people of health insurance strikes at a visceral human need, a debate over taxes tends to bog voters down in wonky details. Meanwhile, Democrats struggled to break through a media environment crowded with an intensifying Russia investigation, a wave of sexual harassment scandals and a fight over young undocumented immigrants. And while liberal grassroots activists sought to bring pressure to bear on GOP swing votes, the Republican Party held together this time, desperate for a major legislative victory after a year in total control of Washington.” http://politi.co/2BxkpHx
— WAPO’S DAVID LYNCH: “Trump promised ‘America First’ would keep jobs here. But the tax plan might push them overseas”: “The legislation fails to eliminate long-standing incentives for companies to move overseas and, in some cases, may even increase them, they say. ‘This bill is potentially more dangerous than our current system,’ said Stephen Shay, a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and former Treasury Department international tax expert in the Obama administration. ‘It creates a real incentive to shift real activity offshore.’” http://wapo.st/2CK0vqI
— THE PAUL STREET JOURNAL: “A Tax Reform for Growth: The GOP bill will spur investment and make the U.S. more competitive”: “Republicans have been promising to reform the tax code for decades, and Speaker Paul Ryan deserves particular notice for years of intellectual and political spadework. The House campaigned on tax reform with its Better Way agenda, and Donald Trump made it a 2016 theme. This bill fulfills that promise.” http://on.wsj.com/2CmmG58
— NEW YORK REP. LEE ZELDIN announced he would vote against the final package. Last night, Steve Bannon campaigned for him. So much for Bannon being Trump’s biggest cheerleader on the outside! Zeldin will vote against his top legislative priority.
AMY WALTER on PAUL RYAN in the Cook Political Report — “Paul Ryan Is More Than A Policy Wonk”: “Most of the focus on what a Ryan-less House would look like centers on the legislative and intra-party repercussions of his departure. Not as much attention has been paid to Ryan’s significant investment in the political infrastructure of the party, and what it would mean for House Republicans to lose that. Known more for being a budget guru than a Rep. Tom Davis-like political savant, Ryan has nonetheless built something of a shadow party to help defend and define House campaigns for 2018. His SuperPAC – Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) – spent more than $40 million in 2016. That is a little more than half of what the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm spent ($73 million) in the 2016 cycle. This year, CLF says it plans to spend $100 million, much of it on an aggressive field and data operation that is already up and running in 17 of the most vulnerable GOP-held congressional districts. …
“There’s nothing all that unusual about a House Speaker or House leader being a prodigious fundraiser. It is a significant part of the job. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has retained her base of power, say many Democratic insiders, thanks to her fundraising prowess. However, we’ve never seen a Speaker this involved in the nuts and bolts of campaigning and messaging in ways that bypass the official party apparatus.
“This isn’t to say that Ryan has ignored the House campaign committee. The Speaker has transferred more than $30 million to the NRCC. Even so, for House Republicans up in 2018, they may be more indebted to Ryan’s early investments in their campaigns than they are to the official party campaign committees.” http://bit.ly/2CAbYsR
REMEMBER: The government needs to be funded by Friday night.
SMILES AT THE DSCC — “On Trump turf, GOP still seeks North Dakota Senate candidate,” by the AP’s Tom Beaumont and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota: “In North Dakota, where Donald Trump won in a landslide last year, Republicans’ lone Senate candidate is a little-known state lawmaker — and potato farmer — from a remote town closer to the Canadian border than the state capital. While established Republicans and business leaders in other states Trump carried are running to topple Democratic senators, the GOP is struggling to land a big name in North Dakota to run against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2018.
“The slow start has raised some worries that the GOP is ceding the early advantage to the well-funded Heitkamp in a place seemingly ripe for Republicans’ quest to expand their majority yet surprisingly central to Democrats’ effort to hold them off. She is one of 10 Democrats seeking re-election next year in a state the president carried. ‘I’m not sure that our party fully grasps or understands the magnitude of a campaign against Heidi Heitkamp,’ said former Gov. Ed Schafer, a Republican. ‘We’re acting like we’re overly confident of a win.’” http://strib.mn/2AD39gr
****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE and the US are partnering to create economic growth and jobs for people in both countries. For eight years in a row, the UAE has been the top market in the Middle East and North Africa for US exports. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******
ON OMAROSA … — NYT’S KATIE ROGERS and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “‘As the only African-American woman in this White House,’ Ms. Newman said in the ‘Good Morning America’ interview, ‘I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. It is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.’ Ms. Newman has not elaborated, other than to say that she had been trying to raise ‘grave concerns’ about an issue that would ‘affect the president in a big way.’ Former and current White House officials said they were uncertain what she was referring to. But she has rejected one suggestion: that Mr. Trump holds racist views.
“‘Donald Trump is racial, but he is not a racist,’ she said on ABC’s ‘Nightline.’ ‘The things that he says, the types of pushback that he gives, involve people of color. These are racial exchanges.’ ‘Yes, I will acknowledge many of the exchanges — particularly in the last six months — have been racially charged … Do we then just stop and label him as a racist? No.’” http://bit.ly/2k3VvVW
— DATA DU JOUR: “Black conservatives reel after Omarosa resigns,” by Boston Globe’s Astead Herndon and Annie Linskey: “[H]er sudden absence also casts a fresh spotlight on the startling lack of racial diversity in Trump’s administration. … African-American representation is especially thin among the ranks of roughly 125 ‘commissioned officers’ within the White House, high-ranking staffers designated as assistant, deputy assistant, and special assistant to the president. There are only three black staff members with the commissioned officer rank … The White House would not provide a list of those black staffers. The list does include Ja’Ron Smith, a midlevel black staffer, who was promoted this week to be special assistant to the president.” http://bit.ly/2BhA5w7
HMM — “Executive at Consultancy Hired by E.P.A. Scrutinized Agency Employees Critical of Trump,” by NYT’s Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman: “A vice president for [Definers Public Affairs], Allan Blutstein, federal records show, has submitted at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the E.P.A. since President Trump was sworn in. Many of those requests target employees known to be questioning management at the E.P.A. since Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, was confirmed.
“Mr. Blutstein, in an interview, said he was taking aim at ‘resistance’ figures in the federal government, adding that he hoped to discover whether they had done anything that might embarrass them or hurt their cause. ‘I wondered if they were emailing critical things about the agency on government time and how frequently they were corresponding about this,’ he said. ‘And did they do anything that would be useful for Republicans.’” http://nyti.ms/2CEWiEr
— “CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity,” by WaPo’s Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin: “The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including ‘fetus’ and ‘transgender’ — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are ‘vulnerable,’ ‘entitlement,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based.’” http://wapo.st/2k2Wo15
SEND IN YOUR PITCHES! – “Kushner’s legal team looks to hire crisis public relations firm amid Russia probe,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey: “Senior White House official Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm, according to four people familiar with the matter. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has quietly called at least two firms … The inquiries have occurred in the past two weeks … In a statement, Lowell confirmed he was looking for a firm that would handle media for all high-profile clients that receive attention from the press. … ‘My law firm and I are considering hiring an outside consultant to handle the time-consuming incoming inquiries on the cases in which I am working that receive media attention,’ Lowell said in a statement … ‘This inquiry from you about whether I am doing this is a good example of why we need one.’ … At least one firm, Mercury Public Affairs, passed up the opportunity to work with Kushner’s team, people familiar with the discussions said.” http://wapo.st/2AXWSjG
COMING ATTRACTIONS — “Trump lawyers set for key meeting with special counsel next week,” by CNN’s Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Gloria Borger and Kara Scannell: “Trump’s private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President’s team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller’s probe, according to sources familiar with the matter. While the lawyers have met with Mueller’s team before and might again, the sources believe the upcoming meeting has greater significance because it comes after the completion of interviews of White House personnel requested by the special counsel and after all requested documents have been turned over. Mueller could still request more documents and additional interviews.
“No request to interview the President or the vice president has been made, sources tell CNN. But Trump’s team, led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, is hoping for signs that Mueller’s investigation is nearing its end, or at least the part having to do with the President. Their goal is to help Trump begin to emerge from the cloud of the ongoing investigation, several of the sources explained. The sources acknowledge that Mueller is under no obligation to provide any information and concede they may walk away with no greater clarity.” http://cnn.it/2BkntUW
DRIP DRIP — “Nine more women say judge subjected them to inappropriate behavior, including four who say he touched or kissed them,” by WaPo’s Matt Zapotosky: “The new allegations — which span decades and include not just those who worked for [Alex] Kozinski but also those who encountered him at events — bring the total number of women accusing the judge of inappropriate behavior to at least 15. One recent law student at the University of Montana said that Kozinski, at a 2016 reception, pressed his finger into the side of her breast, which was covered by her clothes, and moved it with some ‘deliberateness’ to the center, purporting to be pushing aside her lapel to fully see her name tag. Another lawyer said Kozinski approached her when she was alone in a room at a legal community event around 2008 in downtown Los Angeles and — with no warning — gave her a bear hug and kissed her on the lips.” http://wapo.st/2kyGPxJ
— “The two expat bros who terrorized women correspondents in Moscow,” by Kathy Lally in WaPo: “Twenty years ago, when I was a Moscow correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, two Americans named Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames ran an English-language tabloid in the Russian capital called the eXile. They portrayed themselves as swashbuckling parodists, unbound by the conventions of mainstream journalism, exposing Westerners who were cynically profiting from the chaos of post-Soviet Russia. A better description is this: The eXile was juvenile, stunt-obsessed and pornographic, titillating for high school boys. … The eXile’s distinguishing feature, more than anything else, was its blinding sexism — which often targeted me.” http://wapo.st/2k4NsZh
FIRST PERSON – “Trent Franks rescinded my internship when I wouldn’t come to his house,” by Melissa Richmond in WaPo: “After … interviews, the congressman’s office offered me a summer internship focusing on his Judiciary Committee work. Several weeks went by. Then something unusual happened. The congressman called me on my cellphone — from his cellphone — late on a Sunday night. He mentioned that his family wasn’t home and asked me whether I could come over that night for a ‘final one-on-one interview’ with him. I was stunned.
“Senior members of his staff had interviewed me weeks before and offered me the position. After speaking with my family, I called the congressman back and told him I didn’t feel comfortable going to his house. In that case, he told me, the internship offer was rescinded.” http://wapo.st/2Buz4n0
— @RepAdamSchiff: “I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month. Here’s why” — hisTwitter thread http://bit.ly/2CnQChs
FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. setting stage for solar trade war with China,” by Emily Holden: “An unreleased White House document offers the strongest hint yet that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for punitive tariffs on Chinese-made solar power equipment — a step that would promote the president’s ‘America First’ trade agenda while sharply increasing the costs of solar power in the U.S.The prospect of such tariffs, which President Donald Trump could announce in January, has deeply alarmed the U.S. solar installation industry. It warns that it could lose tens of thousands of jobs if the cost of solar spikes, slowing the booming growth that sun-powered energy enjoyed during the Obama administration.” http://politi.co/2CGY8Vh
THE MGM RESORTS PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE — run by Harry Reid and John Boehner — has named its board: Frank Fahrenkopf, Jane Harman, Ron Kirk, Kris Engelstad McGarry, Sig Rogich, Ken Salazar and Rich Verma.
CHRIS FRATES talks to JESSE FERGUSON about politics and working at the highest levels of a campaign while fighting cancer. “Politics Inside Out with Chris Frates” airs today at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m., and Monday at 2 p.m. on SiriusXM channel 124 and on demand on the SiriusXM app. Clips for Playbookers:Ferguson on watching the GOP stumble https://goo.gl/FxbSWv … Democratic soul searching https://goo.gl/v7KvXM … https://goo.gl/AGDUJV … His cancer diagnosis https://goo.gl/uispnJ
VALLEY TALK — “Uber Hacked and Surveilled Rivals, Alleges Ex-Manager in Letter,” by WSJ’s Jack Nicas and Greg Bensinger: “In June 2016, Uber Technologies Inc. contractors trained by the [CIA] allegedly spied on another firm’s executives and sent live video to then-Chief Executive Travis Kalanick in the company’s ‘War Room.’ That summer, an Uber contractor allegedly began using hacked phones and ‘signal-intercept equipment’ to collect data about phone calls between Uber’s opponents, politicians and regulators.
“And several months later, Uber employees allegedly hacked into a rival’s systems and collected ‘the license, name and contact information’ of all of its drivers—information allegedly delivered directly to Mr. Kalanick. These allegations are among the claims made by a former Uber official in a 37-page letter delivered in May to management that paints the ride-hailing firm as a paranoid company with a sophisticated intelligence apparatus designed to gain an edge on rivals and trick regulators.” http://on.wsj.com/2jbj5zv
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Progressives hunt down one of the last conservative Democrats,” by Illinois Playbooker Natasha Korecki in Chicago: “Powerful interests are lined up against him. Outside spending groups are forming to advocate for his defeat. National political figures have endorsed his opponent. And that’s just within Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski’s own party. Lipinski, one of the few remaining conservative Democrats in Congress, is under siege from the left, battling for his political life against progressives who are teaming up to replace him with a candidate far more in line with liberal orthodoxy.
“That candidate, Marie Newman, a businesswoman and former marketing consultant, already has high-profile endorsements from feminist icon Gloria Steinem and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — an unusual show of opposition against a fellow Democratic congressional incumbent. Newman has also received a rare joint endorsement from a handful of influential progressive groups: NARAL, MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Human Rights Campaign. While Lipinski is accustomed to drawing primary challenges in his Chicago-based district, he’s never before been targeted with so much local and national firepower.” http://politi.co/2j5UvzL
BUSINESS BURST — “Boeing, Airbus Sales Imperiled as Trump Administration Formulates Iran Plan,” by WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz andIan Talley: “The Trump administration is advancing a strategy that could derail efforts by Boeing Co. and Airbus SE to sell hundreds of jetliners to Iranian airlines, U.S. officials said. The two aerospace giants have lined up deals over the past 15 months that have been left in limbo as the White House reassessed its Iran policy and has threatened to walk away from an international nuclear deal if Congress and European partners don’t address concerns, with only a handful of Airbus planes so far delivered.
“Any effort to scuttle these deals, by accident or design, could have far-reaching consequences, both for the nuclear accord and the jet makers. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for significant sanctions relief, and supporters of the accord fear it would fall apart if Iran doesn’t see the benefits it was promised.” http://on.wsj.com/2BkLBGX
****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: With trade in aviation, high tech, and defense, the UAE delivers a $19 billion trade surplus for the US. These exports support hundreds of thousands of American jobs. They also help the UAE diversify its economy. By working with the US, the UAE has become a center for innovation and opportunity in the Middle East. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 15 keepers http://politi.co/2Cn2Wyr
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “The Bar Mitzvah Party Starters,” by Jen Doll in Topic: “The business of professional bar and bat mitzvah party motivators—dancers, djs and emcees—is booming. But who are they?” http://bit.ly/2AAkRAY
— “The Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free,” by Adam Wren in Traffic Magazine: “In four short years, Jessica Lessin has bootstrapped her Silicon Valley news site into a cash-flow-positive scoop powerhouse that’s emerging as the definitive chronicler of the age of unicorns, with subscribers ranging from Jonah Peretti to James Murdoch. Now, for her next trick: saving the news business.” http://bit.ly/2BfkI7o
— “Adam Gopnik: ‘You’re waltzing along and suddenly you’re portrayed as a monster of privilege,’” by The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman: “The New Yorker essayist on his latest memoir, ‘At the Strangers’ Gate,’ and the problem of writing about happiness.” http://bit.ly/2jZcfO5
— “FML,” by Michael Hobbbes in HuffPost: “Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression.” http://bit.ly/2zeJ4P1
— “The Warlock Hunt,” by Claire Berlinksi in the American Scholar: “The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.” http://bit.ly/2BRltT2
— “This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work,” by Rebecca Traister in the Cut: “[I]n the midst of our great national calculus, in which we are determining what punishments fit which sexual crimes, it’s possible that we’re missing the bigger picture altogether: that this is not, at its heart, about sex at all — or at least not wholly. What it’s really about is work, and women’s equality in the workplace, and more broadly, about the rot at the core of our power structures that makes it harder for women to do work because the whole thing is tipped toward men.” http://bit.ly/2kxsEZM
— “The Case Against Reading Everything,” by Jason Guriel in the Walrus – per ALDaily.com’s description: “Writers are told to fan out across genres, to expose themselves to everything. Bad advice. Don’t read widely. Most work is middling and should be ignored.” http://bit.ly/2oht8bn
— “How the GOP Can Hang on to the Working Class,” by Charles F. McElwee III in the American Conservative: “Donald Trump’s election shows this political courtship is real. But it will only continue if Republicans respond in kind.” http://bit.ly/2AVujTN
— “With a Little Help From Their Friends (and Agents and Librarians and Fact-Checkers …),” by NYT’s Jennifer Senior: “Some revelations [in acknowledgments sections] are inadvertent, and not especially flattering to the author. In my head, I have an informal taxonomy of acknowledgments, and one species is the Name-Dropper. Do writers know the kind of insecurity they’re betraying when they do their Trump Towers of thanks, their gold-plated word-piles of self-regard?” http://nyti.ms/2j7OJha
— “Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?” by Susana Ferreira in the Guardian: “Since it decriminalised all drugs in 2001, Portugal has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime.” http://bit.ly/2CxAomx
— “Cat Person,” by Kristen Roupenian in the New Yorker – per Longreads.com’s description: “A young woman goes on a bad date with an older man.” http://bit.ly/2kyd6ol
— “The Taking,” by T. Christian Miller of ProPublica, and Kiah Collier and Julián Aguilar of the Texas Tribune: “The federal government’s boldest land grab in a generation produced the first border wall — and a trail of abuse, mistakes and unfairness.” http://bit.ly/2AUj6CY
— “Jim Simons, the Numbers King,” by D. T. Max in the New Yorker: “Algorithms made him a Wall Street billionaire. His new research center helps scientists mine data for the common good.” http://bit.ly/2zfLDRc
— “Estonia, the Digital Republic,” by Nathan Heller in the New Yorker: “Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?” http://bit.ly/2jZYmz8
SPOTTED on a Delta flight from DCA to ATL on Friday: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), flying first class – pic of him boardinghttp://politi.co/2j8pAD3 … Reince Priebus with RNC secretary Susie Hudson at Capital Grille Friday afternoon and “like the rest of DC, partaking in a glass of wine,” per a tipster.
TRANSITION — Paul Winfree, formerly director of budget policy and deputy assistant to President Trump and a senior staffer at the Senate Budget Committee, has started N58 Policy Research, a public policy consulting firm. After leaving the White House on Friday, he is also returning to the Heritage Foundation as director of economic policy.
BIRTHDAYS: Jesse Suskin, manager of public policy and government relations at Google in Sydney … Jake Sherman is 32 … Phil Mattingly, CNN correspondent and the Ohio State Buckeyes #1 fan, is 34 (hat tip: Mitchell Rivard, who is a Michigan State University alum) … Whitman Spencer Deckard … Time alum Jim Kelly … Peter Orszag, vice chairman of investment banking at Lazard and former Obama OMB director … Lesley Stahl … Jenni LeCompte, managing director at GPG … Rebecca Collegio … Jano Cabrera, SVP of comms, global media and public relations at McDonald’s and Burson-Marsteller alum … Kezia McKeague of McLarty Associates’ Latin America practice (h/ts Ben Chang) … Kate Black, policy adviser at the FCC … Melissa Kiedrowicz … Zach Cohen, a reporter at the Hotline … Judith Giuliani … former Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) is 77 … Ross Berry, president of REVT Strategies, is 28 … Adam Bromberg … CNN’s Jason Seher … Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ) is 59 … Matt Mariani … William Schulz … Bill Schulz … Susan Liss … Matt Klapper, chief of staff to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) … Kelsey Knight … CNN State Dept. producer Laura Koran … Carol M. Browner (h/t Dan Weiss, who calls her a “green hero”) … Chris Frech, VP of government affairs at Emergent BioSolutions and former deputy assistant to President Bush (h/t Ed Cash) …
… Kendall Breitman, “Kasie DC” producer (h/t Ben Mayer) … CNN producer Liz Turrell … Alexa Damis-Wulff, LA for health and education policy for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) (h/t Mom, Maria) … Warren Adler … former Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri is 75 … Christina Mulvihill, Sony’s senior director of external relations … Amber Smith, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach. … former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is 69 … Sharon Dickens … David Crook … Liz Goodwin … Amy Siskind … Mark Sump … John Bailey … Andrea Taylor Recher … Whitney Kuhn Lawson … AP transportation reporter Joan Lowy … Hugh O’Connell … Craig Veith … Jacy Reese … Jody Murphy, executive director at the Virginia House Democratic Caucus … Scooter Slade … Edelman’s Clay Black … Mohammad Reza Noroozpour is 44 … Emily Merwin … Doug Culver … Politico alum Caitlin McDevitt … Tom Kise … Melissa Wisner … Elisa Beneze … Steven Bochco … Jodie Steck … Emily Gaumer … Allison Thompson (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:
–“Fox News Sunday”: Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) … Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Panel: Rich Lowry, Juan Williams, Donna Edwards and Brian Kilmeade … “Power Player of the Week” with photojournalist Lynsey Addario
–NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Marc Short … Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) … Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Panel: Al Cardenas, Helene Cooper, Stephanie Cutter and George Will
–ABC’s “This Week”: Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) … Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) … Glenn Hubbard and Paul Krugman. Panel: Mary Bruce, Matthew Dowd, Sara Fagen, Patrick Gaspard and Julie Pace
–CNN’s “State of the Union”: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin … Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.). Panel: Ana Navarro, Jen Psaki, Michael Caputo and Karine Jean-Pierre
—CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Panel: Jamelle Bouie, Ben Domenech, Jeffrey Goldberg and Amy Walter … Richard Rubin
–Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) … Bud Cummins … Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) … Karl Rove. Panel: Real Clear Politics’ A.B. Stoddard and The Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio
–Fox News’ “MediaBuzz”: Mollie Hemingway … Libby Casey … Ruth Marcus … Guy Benson … Jessica Tarlov … Lynn Sherr
—CNN’s “Inside Politics” with John King: Panel: Jonathan Martin, Eliana Johnson, Sara Murray and Sahil Kapur
–CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Foreign policy panel: Susan Glasser, Luke Harding and David Miliband … Zanny Minton Beddoes and David Frum … Abby Joseph Cohen and Ruchir Sharma
–CNN’s “Reliable Sources”: Margaret Talev and Brian Karem … panel: Amy Chozick, Hadas Gold, David Folkenflik and Rich Greenfield … Kurt Bardella … Detained Mexican reporter Emilio Gutierrez’s attorney Eduardo Beckett and Committee to Protect Journalists advocacy director Courtney Radsch
–Univision’s “Al Punto”: “Frente Por México” presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya … documentary producer (“Est Soy”) Epigmenio Ibarra … “The Post” actors Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg … playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda … “Alianza de Oposición” Honduran presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla
–C-SPAN: “The Communicators”: The Washington Post’s Brian Fung and Politico’s Margaret Harding McGill … “Newsmakers”: Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), questioned by Roll Call’s Lindsey McPherson and The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda … “Q&A”: Author, professor and historian Gordon Wood
–MSNBC’s “Kasie DC”: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) … DNC Vice Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) … Carly Fiorina … Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.). Panel: Ashley Parker, Yamiche Alcindor, Michael Steel, Geoff Bennett and Rachael Bade
–Washington Times’ “Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPolitics.com): Former Reagan aide and Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo.
****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE is a major investor in the US. UAE FDI in the US totaled $26 billion in 2016 – in sectors ranging from financial services, to transportation, to consumer products. That means jobs for thousands of Americans and liquidity for capital markets across the country. The UAE and the US are united in prosperity. http://politi.co/2y8BB0m ******
Soccer Football – Premier League – Chelsea vs Southampton – Stamford Bridge, London, Britain – December 16, 2017 Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas down on the pitch REUTERS/Toby Melville
December 16, 2017
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Champions Chelsea claimed an eighth win in their last 10 Premier League games at home to Southampton and Arsenal edged past Newcastle United as the London clubs maintained their distant pursuit of leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
Marcos Alonso’s long-range free kick just before halftime earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge to put Antonio Conte’s side level in second place with Manchester United on 38 points from 18 games, 11 behind City who were hosting Tottenham Hotspur in the late kickoff.
United are in action at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
After three games without a win Arsenal moved back into the top four thanks to Mesut Ozil’s superb volleyed winner in the first half at the Emirates.
They have 33 points, one more than fifth-placed Burnley who were held to a 0-0 draw away at Brighton and Hove Albion.
Glenn Murray missed a penalty for Brighton who are without a win in seven matches.
Christian Benteke put himself back in Crystal Palace’s good book as he scored Palace’s first away goal of the season with his first goal of the campaign — Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako were also on target in a 3-0 victory for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Benteke broke from team orders and took, and missed, a stoppage-time penalty against Bournemouth last weekend to deny his side a precious victory, but made amends after 18 minutes as Palace rose to 14th spot.
Leicester, who had won four consecutive games, had Wilfred Ndidi sent off after he was booked for simulation, his second yellow card of the game.
West Ham United also emerged from the bottom three with a 3-0 victory at Stoke City — Marco Arnautovic on target for the Hammers against the club he left in the close season.
Huddersfield Town also ended a long scoring drought on the road as they thumped stumbling Watford 4-1.
Aaron Mooy was on target twice for the visitors who had Jonathan Hogg dismissed in the second half for a second booking. Troy Deeney saw red for Watford in the first half.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)
Former Trump Chief Strategist and current Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon will host Breitbart News Saturday live from Tokyo and take your calls.
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