NEWS     THURSDAY,  SEPTEMBER  13, 2018    NEWS

Cory Booker slapped with ethics complaint over 'Spartacus' moment
A legal watchdog asked the Senate ethics committee Wednesday to open an investigation into Sen. Cory Booker after he released confidential documents during Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing last week. Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog, said Mr. Booker’s release violates Senate rules against disclosing “secret or confidential business or proceedings.” “Senator Booker, in an absurd invocation of ‘Spartacus,’ explicitly invited his expulsion from the Senate in his egregious violation of the rules and contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “Will the Senate assert the rule of law in the Booker case or allow mob rule to be the new standard?” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: A lesson should be set for such a public display of disobedience.

Gingrich, Republicans float new Contract with America ahead of midterms
Republicans have poll-tested a Contract with America-style agenda to carry into the fall elections as they ponder whether they need to give voters a bolder plan for what they will do if they keep control of Congress. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of the 1994 contract that powered Republicans to their first House majority in decades, has been making the case for nationalizing the campaign. John McLaughlin, a pollster, has tested one version of a national agenda that would involve Republicans backing term limits, paid parental leave and another round of tax cuts. Washington Tines
VOA VIEW: A good idea.

Fleeing Hurricane Florence: Easier said than done on 'last good day to evacuate'
There were those who wouldn’t evacuate as Hurricane Florence approached the Carolina coast, and those who couldn’t evacuate. Then there were those who tried to evacuate – but found the task neither quick nor easy. Among them were Mark and Donna Welke of Orland Hills, Illinois, who searched for a rental car Wednesday after learning that their evening flight from Charleston back to Chicago had been canceled. The couple – he’s 62, she’s 58 and both are independently employed – had come to stay for three days in Charleston’s historic district. They said they’d planned for the possibility of Hurricane Florence nearing the coast the following weekend. USA Today

Hurricane Florence puts 10M in crosshairs along East Coast; Trump urges 'protection of life'
President Trump on Wednesday said that as Hurricane Florence makes its way toward the U.S., "protection of life is the absolute highest priority." The hurricane, according to the president, will be "one of the biggest to ever hit the East Coast, one of the biggest to ever hit our country." More than 10 million people were under storm watches and warnings on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence — described as “the storm of a lifetime” — continued to drive its way to the East Coast. Fox

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CBS News fires '60 Minutes' producer Fager in wake of sexual misconduct allegations
CBS News fired "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager Wednesday, just three days after CBS CEO Leslie Moonves resigned following a new round of sexual assault and harassment accusations made against him. In a memo to staff, CBS News chief David Rhodes says Fager's departure is not connected to Sunday's New Yorker story, which alleged that he allowed sexual harassment and misconduct to go on in his division. "The action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently. However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold these policies at every level," Rhodes writes. USA Today
VOA VIEW: When it rains,it pours.

Median U.S. household income up in '17 for third straight year
Average household incomes in the United States climbed for the third straight year in 2017 and poverty rates declined, according to new data Wednesday from the U.S. Census Bureau. The 74-page report, titled "Income and Poverty in the United States," said the median U.S. household income was $61,372 last year, up nearly 2 percent from 2016. While significant, the increase in household income made larger jumps in both 2015 and 2016. The Census Bureau also detailed a decline in the poverty rate -- 0.4 percent to 12.3 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month the unemployment rate remains historically low, at 3.9 percent -- its lowest level since 2000. UPI

Trump order threatens sanctions for interference in U.S. elections
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to give federal agencies power to sanction countries, foreign individuals and companies that interfere or spread misinformation in U.S. elections. The e
xecutive action came less than two months before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, and two years after U.S. authorities say Russia meddled in the presidential race won by Trump. "The president has said repeatedly that he's determined that there not be foreign interference in our election," national security adviser John Bolton said in a press call Wednesday. "We want to ensure the American public that elections have not been manipulated, their vote has not been changed. We have a process in place to ensure that and retaliate if necessary." UPI
VOA VIEW: It's a very positive threat that would include Google, Facebook and Twitter.

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'The View' host Joy Behar checks herself after slip of tongue: 'I don't wish the president ill'
“The View” star Joy Behar immediately backtracked and appeared to feel bad on Wednesday after saying “God forbid” President Trump lives another 20 years. The panel was in the midst of a conversation about the president’s recent comments about Hurricane Florence and his response to last year’s tragic storm in Puerto Rico. “Unfortunately the real power is in the presidency… he’s the one who calls the shots,” the ABC star said. “This man will never apologize, if he lives another 20 years, God forbid, not God forbid.” A look at the life of the controversial 'The View' co-host and how she continues to make headlines. Fox
VOA VIEW: Behar sounded like an idiot - she had to backwater because it.

Abuse scandal hits diocese of cardinal set to meet with pope
As U.S. Catholic leaders head to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis about a growing church abuse crisis, the cardinal leading the delegation has been accused by two people of not doing enough to stop a priest who was arrested this week on sexual abuse charges. The two people told The Associated Press that they reported the priest and met with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. One of them says she was promised in a meeting with DiNardo, several years after she first reported abuse, that the priest would be removed from any contact with children, only to discover that the priest remained in active ministry at another parish 70 miles away. The priest, Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, was arrested Tuesday by police in Conroe, Texas. Both people who spoke to the AP are cooperating with police. Houston Chronicle

Who Has Leverage at the Nafta Table
From day one, President Donald Trump has imposed his will on talks to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement. But as his administration tries to seal the deal, it’s not clear he holds all the cards. Trump’s repeated threats to pull out of the pact have kept Mexico and Canada on their heels. The president may still brandish the threat of withdrawal to push a deal through Congress. Yet Canada does have some leverage as it decides whether to join a tentative U.S. deal with Mexico. Meanwhile, any deal Trump signs then requires congressional approval, and the Democrats are favored to seize control of the House in November, making approval far from a foregone conclusion. Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: Nafta has been bad for the US.

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Stormy Daniels announces memoir she says will 'blow minds'
The president has denied the affair. But his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, facilitated a $130,000 payment to Daniels to secure her silence on the eve of the 2016 election – money Trump said he later reimbursed Cohen for. Cohen pleaded guilty last month to violating campaign finance laws in connection with the payment. Daniels sued Trump in March 2018 to establish the hush agreement as invalid because he never signed it. Her lawsuit described efforts by Cohen to intimidate her. Lawyers for Trump and Cohen have since said that they would not attempt to enforce the agreement. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Daniels needs to raise money.

Venezuela’s hyperinflation fuels misery for poor but enriches elite through currency exchanges
Skyrocketing prices have ruined Venezuela’s economy with many people unable to afford even basic necessities — unless you are part of tight circle of politically connected elites with access to a government-controlled currency exchange that one financial expert in Miami summed up as a “perpetual money machine for insider criminals.” The exchange offers bolivar-for-dollar rates insulated from the country’s hyperinflation, a currency system that the socialist government of the late President Hugo Chávez first set up to stabilize the economy and lower the prices of essential goods like food and medicine for the poor. In the 15 years since, financial experts and U.S. prosecutors say the government exchange has also turned into a tool to empower Venezuelan leaders and enrich already wealthy business insiders. They’ve siphoned billions out of national coffers by exploiting exchange rates rigged to make astronomical profits in currency transactions that are inaccessible to a population struggling with widespread food shortages and runaway prices. Miami Herald

BART ad from anti-Semitic group prompts outrage
A Holocaust denial group has paid BART $6,400 to display an ad at two BART stations in San Francisco that read: “History matters.” The advertiser is the Institute for Historical Review, based in Fountain Valley in Orange County, and is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The SPLC’s website calls the group “once a prominent voice in extremist circles.” It says the group’s past conferences have been “networking opportunities” for neo-Nazis and anti-Semites such as David Irving, and a now-defunct publication it produced denied facts about concentration camps and the Diary of Anne Frank. SF Gate
VOA VIEW: Mad left wing radicals.

A dealer pleaded guilty to helping cheat his casino out of $1 million
A man who worked as a baccarat dealer at a Maryland casino pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping players cheat the casino out of just over $1 million in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Ming Zhang of Alexandria, Virginia, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison following his guilty plea in federal court to one count of conspiring to transport stolen funds. Zhang exposed part of a baccarat deck to a player who photographed the unshuffled cards before that player and other “conspirators” placed large bets on hands last September, a court filing says. Bettors can predict the outcome of baccarat hands “with near-perfect accuracy” if they know they order of cards in a deck, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Pulice. Boston Globe

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Jimmy Carter urges Democrats to 'appeal to independents'
Jimmy Carter has issued a warning to his fellow Democrats looking to oust the Trump administration: don’t go too far to the left. “Independents need to know they can invest their vote in the Democratic party,” the former US president said in an annual address he gives at his post-presidential center and library in Atlanta. Carter advised caution about the political consequences should Democrats “move to a very liberal program, like universal health care”. That is delicate and, Carter acknowledged, even contradictory advice coming from the 93-year-old former president, and it underscores the complicated political calculations for Democrats as they prepare for the November midterms and look ahead to the 2020 presidential election. Guardian

Rick Scott starts process to pick Supreme Court justices. Political, legal fights loom.
In a move likely to provoke new legal challenges, Gov. Rick Scott wants the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to get to work seeking applicants for three upcoming vacancies on the state’s highest court. The nine-member panel has 60 days to submit three to six names for each vacancy. “To minimize or avoid any period of vacancy on the Supreme Court, the nominating process must begin well in advance of these vacancies,” Scott said in a statement. Miami Herald

Trump attacks mayor of San Juan as he touts readiness for Hurricane Florence
President Trump on Wednesday leveled a fresh attack on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as he continued to defend his administration's response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year and asserted readiness for the one now barreling toward the Carolinas. In a morning tweet, Trump called Cruz "totally incompetent." She was the local official most vocal about the need for a more robust federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where researchers have estimated there were nearly 3,000 excess deaths after the storm. In the tweet, Trump also touted his administration's response to other hurricanes last year and doubled down on his insistence Tuesday that his administration's response to Hurricane Maria was "an incredible, unsung success." Sun Sentinel
VOA VIEW: The San Juan mayor is the major cause of its problems.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on why he didn't shake Parkland father's hand
 Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he would have shaken the hand of a school shooting victim's father during a break in last week's Senate hearing had he recognized him before being whisked away by security detail. Kavanaugh's explanation for the encounter with Fred Guttenberg -- captured in an Associated Press photo that went viral on social media -- was among a 263-page response to written questions from senators on a range of issues including abortion, executive power and his personal finances. Kavanaugh wrote that he assumed the man who approached him "and touched my arm" during a break at the Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings had been one of the many protesters in the hearing room. Guttenberg's 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among 17 people killed on Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. CBS

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Family arrivals surge at US-Mexico border in August
The Border Patrol arrested dramatically more immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border in August compared to previous months in a spike that a Trump administration official said Wednesday was the result of legal loopholes allowing parents and children to avoid immediate deportation to their homelands in Central America. The number of families arriving at the Mexico border reached 15,955, said Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. Families accounted for about one-third of people who were stopped at the border. He called the increase "a direct response to gaps in the legal framework," adding, "we're not surprised by it, but it's been a very stark trend." Houston Chronicle

Wagner says he'd sue painkiller makers over addiction costs
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner said Wednesday that his administration would sue the makers of prescription painkillers to recoup Pennsylvania's cost of dealing with opioid-related addiction. Wagner made the announcement as part of a plan to attack what he says is a worsening problem. Last year, Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, and 40 other state attorneys general said they had served subpoenas requesting information from companies that make prescription painkillers and demanded information from three distributors. The campaign of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said it supports Shapiro's efforts, but Wagner said being part of such a coalition is like being a member of a "card club." Philadelphia Inquirer

Lindsey Graham regrets John McCain 'didn't have more time with President Trump'
By the end, Sen. John McCain had rejected President Donald Trump. The president was so infuriated by McCain he put a biting reference to the dying Republican senator in his stump speech. Yet one man in Washington still had hope for bridging the gap between the two. "I regret that he didn't have more time with President Trump," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told The Associated Press this week about McCain, his late friend and mentor. Graham noted McCain was able to forgive his captors during the Vietnam War. "Who knows what would have happened over time?" Graham's unexplained optimism, his eager attempts to soften Trump's rough edges, have confused colleagues and caused double-takes across Washington recently. The South Carolina Republican was McCain's best friend in the Senate, a self-described student of his politics and personal integrity. Sun Sentinel
VOA VIEW: McCain was not a true conservative.

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‘Collective endeavour’ needed to strengthen peacekeeping further, says top UN official
“Improving peacekeeping is, by its very essence, a collective endeavour,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council on Wednesday. “Ensuring that our missions are fit for purpose and perform well, requires action by all of us and all of us working together,” he added, noting the role of the UN Secretariat, Member States, countries which contribute personnel, host nations and regional organizations. In his briefing, Mr. Lacroix outlined steps taken by the Organization and the results these have yielded. One of the key areas includes assessing peacekeepers’ performance. UN

Manafort discusses possible plea deal
Days before in-person jury selection is set to begin in his second trial, President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with the special counsel's office about a possible plea deal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversations, cautioned that the negotiations may not result in a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is prosecuting Manafort for alleged money laundering and lobbying violations. But the discussions indicate a possible shift in strategy for Manafort, who earlier this year chose to go to trial in Virginia, only to be convicted last month in Alexandria, Va., federal court on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. He had derided his former business partner, Rick Gates, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against Manafort. Philadelphia Inquirer

Stormy Daniels says it's too late for Trump to make a deal: 'It's gone too far'
Stormy Daniels vowed to hold President Donald Trump’s feet to the fire and continue to try to legally force him to sit for a deposition about their alleged affair and a $130,000 hush money payment. Her comments came in an appearance with attorney Michael Avenatti on ABC’s “The View” Wednesday, days after lawyers for Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen each filed court motions indicating they would no longer challenge the validity of the non-agreement, or seek to legally enforce the deal. Daniels – who has been embroiled in a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen that seeks to invalidate the agreement and let her speak without fear of legal retribution -- said there was a time when that would have been enough. She has previously offered publicly to return all the money and dissolve the agreement so that she could continue to tell her story. ABC
VOA VIEW: Daniels is playing to her liberal crowd - there has been no interest from Trump to make a deal.

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