Former vice president Joseph R. Biden waded into the debate over the integrity of Congress’s probe of Russian interference in the presidential election Thursday, calling for the creation of a select committee to take over.
Biden offered his opinion in a Twitter message, saying he sided with his former Senate colleague, John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had called for the committee earlier in the day.
McCain was responding to reports that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had personally briefed President Trump on what he said was evidence of surveillance that potentially could have been “incidentally collected” about the president and his associates during the transition period.
Checks & balances? Chair of cmte investigating WH can’t share info w/ WH. McCain is right: Need select committee!
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 23, 2017
Nunes purportedly apologized to Democrats on the committee for failing to inform them before taking his findings to Trump. Democrats and some Republicans have accused him speaking publicly in an attempt to deflect attention from Monday’s congressional hearing, at which FBI Director James B. Comey not only confirmed that the FBI is looking into allegations that the Trump team coordinated with Russian officials during the election, but flatly denied Trump’s accusation that the Obama administration had wiretapped him.
Trump told reporters he felt “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes’s disclosures.
Biden’s tweet is notable in part because he has generally refrained from jumping into the political debate. Former president Barack Obama had previously issued a statement through a spokesman categorically denying that he had ordered surveillance on Trump or any U.S. citizen, calling any suggestion otherwise “simply false.”
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The network of donors and organizations led by Charles and David Koch have reportedly promised to defend Republicans who do not support the Obamacare replacement plan put forth by the GOP.
The network plans to set aside millions of dollars to fund GOP lawmakers’ campaigns if they do not support the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Politico reported.
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The groups Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners are planning to work together to create a “seven-figure” fund that will protect lawmakers who vote against the healthcare bill.
Politico reports that the money will go toward paid media, direct mail, and grassroots canvassing.
The executive vice president of Freedom Partners, James Davis, said the GOP replacement plan does not fully repeal Obamacare as Republicans have promised.
“We will stand with lawmakers who keep their promise and oppose this legislation — and work toward a solution that reduces costs and provides Americans with the relief they need and deserve,” Davis said.
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said that the group has always advocated for a “full repeal” of Obamacare.
“We want to make certain that lawmakers understand the policy consequences of voting for a law that keeps Obamacare intact,” Phillips told CNN Thursday. “We have a history of following up and holding politicians accountable, but we will also be there to support and thank the champions who stand strong and keep their promise.”
Members of the House Freedom Caucus left a White House meeting Thursday without reaching an agreement to back the AHCA.
(CNN Español) – A la periodista Miroslava Breach la encontraron muerta este jueves en Chihuahua después de haber sido agredida a bordo de un vehículo, según información del gobierno de esa ciudad.
La Fiscalía Especializada para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE) abrió una investigación sobre el asesinato de Breach, corresponsal del diario La Jornada en Chihuahua, según le confirmó ese organismo a CNN en Español.
El fiscal Ricardo Nájera, titular de la FEADLE, inició una carpeta de investigación relacionada con el homicidio. Según le dijo Nájera a CNN en Español, en Chihuahua se desplegó un grupo integrado por agentes del Ministerio Público, peritos y personal de servicios periciales para investigar los hechos.
El gobierno de Chihuahua (estado) envió un comunicado diciendo que el gobernador se comprometía a esclarecer los hechos.
“El Gobierno del Estado de Chihuahua proporciona a su familia todo el apoyo requerido en esta situación crítica y ofrece su solidaridad con todo el gremio periodístico en cuya profesión entregó su vida la periodista asesinada”, afirma la comunicación que conoció este medio.
El gobierno pidió ayuda de las personas que “fueron testigos del atentado para que proporcionen información que facilite la captura del o los responsables”. Añadieron que la Policía Estatal y los Ministerios Públicos han recogido evidencia en el lugar de los hechos, entre ellas videos, y que se está indagando entre los vecinos de la zona.
El gobernador de Chihuahua, Javier Corral, se reunió este jueves con los hijos y la familia de Breach, según el comunicado del gobierno.
En México el precio de informar es muy alto para los periodistas. 102 periodistas han sido asesinados en México en posible relación con su labor desde el año 2000 hasta lo que va corrido de este año, según cifras de ARTICLE 19 actualizadas en 19 de marzo. En 2016 asesinaron a 11 periodistas, eso quiere decir que en promedio un periodista fue asesinado en ese país cada 33 días.
De los 17 años analizados, 2016 ha sido el año con mayor número de muertes. En 2006, 2008 y 2010 hubo 10 asesinatos. En lo que va corrido del año se han registrado tres asesinatos, incluyendo el homicidio de Breach.
Con información de Daniela Patiño, de CNN en Español.
La inspiradora historia del venezolano que se volvió viral tocando 'Despacito' en el metro de Madrid
(CNN Español) – Simón Rondón es un venezolano que saltó a la fama en internet gracias a un video que se volvió viral en el que aparece tocando en el violín una popular canción de Luis Fonsi.
El video que dura un poco más de un minuto superó los 9 millones de reproducciones en Facebook en dos semanas y Rondón, que interpretó la versión instrumental de la canción ‘Despacito’, obtuvo una lluvia de comentarios positivos por su talento.
“La verdad es que todo ha sido una muy grata sorpresa e inesperada totalmente”, le dijo Rondón desde Madrid a CNN en Español. “Vi que el video ya tenía 2 millones de reproducciones [en dos días] y dije ‘wow, no puede ser, es imposible’”.
Este venezolano de 31 años —que fue músico durante 15 años— llegó a España a finales de 2016 motivado por “la necesidad personal” de cumplir su sueño de llevar su música a muchas personas.
En 2014, Rondón fue diagnosticado con linfoma de Hodgkin, un tipo de cáncer en el tejido linfático con el que luchó por un año.
“Fue un año muy duro”, recuerda Rondón, un ingeniero de minas venezolano, con maestría en finanzas y quien adelantaba estudios de doctorado en su país, según le dijo a este medio.
“Cuando me reincorporo al trabajo [luego de la enfermedad] me doy cuenta de que no me sentía lleno porque me faltaba algo; que mi vida estaba corriendo de una forma muy rápida y no la estaba disfrutando de la forma que quería”, dice.
Ya curado de su enfermedad, decidió buscar “otros aires” y salir del país.
“Dije… me voy del país y voy a tratar de ser lo que siempre quise ser que es [ser] músico y voy a tratar de llegarles a las personas con mi música”, recuerda.
Desde finales de enero de este año toca en la estación del metro del centro de Madrid. Su video le ha dado la vuelta al mundo y ha recibido muestras de apoyo por su talento no solo en España, sino también en su país natal.
“Cuando uno ve el apoyo que te están dando esas personas que te dicen ‘hey, Simón, estamos orgullosos de ti, lo haces muy bien’, yo creo que no hay mayor energía y positivismo y ganas de echar para adelante que esas reacciones”, dice Rondón. “Los límites los pone uno mismo y yo no voy a ser una persona que se ponga límites para realizar mis sueños”.
Por eso, dice, aunque no sepa qué pasará en el futuro, ni cuáles son sus planes, seguirá soñando con llegarle a muchas personas con su música tocando su violín todos los días para el público español.
(CNN Español) – Normalmente, los simulacros son organizados para que los ciudadanos sepan cómo actuar ante un desastre natural específico: terremoto, huracán, tsunami, inundación, erupción volcánica. Lo que no es común es que se haga un simulacro que integre la reacción para varios de esos eventos.
Eso fue lo que sucedió en Nicaragua este martes, cuando se realizó un simulacro nacional “multiamenazas”, organizado por el Sistema Nacional para la Prevención Mitigación y Atención de Desastres (Sinapred).
El simulacro, llamado Ejercicio de Prevención y Protección para la Vida, comenzó a las 11 de la mañana “bajo la hipótesis de un fuerte sismo de 7,4 grados de magnitud” que, de acuerdo con el Sinapred, debía luego activar al volcán San Cristóbal, en la costa Pacífica. Además, según el Sinapred, se hizo pensando en “los efectos de un huracán en el Caribe Sur”, en la costa Atlántica.
“El tiempo promedio de evacuación fue de 2 minutos. Vamos avanzando, estamos ya en otro momento; en otra etapa del desarrollo de nuestra cultura preventiva, cultura de promoción y defensa de la vida”, dijo Rosario Murillo, vicepresidenta del país y esposa del presidente Daniel Ortega, citada por el Sinapred.
El simulacro se llevó a cabo en barrios, oficinas, comercios, iglesias, instituciones del gobierno, colegios, mercados y hospitales y, según esa entidad, contó con la participación de “los 153 municipios del país” y más de 1,6 millones de personas.
El ejercicio incluía buscar a heridos entre los escombros y llevarlos a puestos de salud lo más rápidamente posible, guiados por brigadas de búsqueda dispuestas por el gobierno.
Dentro de las autoridades que participaron en el gigantesco simulacro “multiamenazas” estaban agentes de la Policía, miembros del Ejército, bomberos y voluntarios de la Cruz Roja. En total, según el Sinapred, fueron más de 17 mil personas, desplegadas en todo el país.
At the moment — of late, political moments tend to be vanishing so don’t hold it against me if this has changed by the time you read this — the faction that’s driving the evolution of the Republican bill to replace Obamacare is the House Freedom Caucus, a group of staunchly conservative members who feel as though the “repeal-and-replace” effort has too much replace, not enough repeal. After negotiations with Republican congressional leadership and the White House, it appears that the American Health Care Act, as the bill is known, still doesn’t meet their requirements.
But while the Freedom Caucus constitutes a large bloc of votes, it is by no means the only group within the Republican caucus that is balking. In fact, opposition to the AHCA is fairly well-distributed across the Republican political spectrum.
Using the Upshot’s meta-whip-count of opponents to the bill, I pulled data on partisanship of the Republican caucus and those who have expressed opposition. (We only used those identified as opposing the AHCA by two or more media outlets.) This list, too, is evolving quickly, so I’ll timestamp this as of 2 p.m. on Thursday.
I looked at five metrics.
The first was the Cook Partisan Voting Index, a measure of the partisanship of each congressional district. The red dots are known AHCA opponents; the gray circle is the average of the Republican caucus on the whole.
What you want to note is the number of red dots on either side of the gray circle. About half of those who oppose the bill come from less-Republican-than-average districts; about half come from more-Republican-than-average. In one sense, this makes perfect sense: Averages generally land in the middle of populations of people, by definition.
But in politics, it’s usually the case that opposition arises from one end of the political spectrum or the other. That conservatives are balking at something moderates are comfortable with, or vice versa. Here, the temperature is even throughout.
Same with the margin of the vote in 2016. About half of those who oppose the bill represent districts that were more strongly pro-Donald-Trump than average; about half, less. (This data was compiled by DailyKos.)
Considering the partisanship of the members of Congress themselves, using DW-NOMINATE data from VoteView — a bit less even. About twice as many opponents of the bill have a higher score than average — meaning they are more conservative — than have a lower-than-average score.
This is an important factor, of course, and it largely reflects the relative solidity of the Freedom Caucus. Nineteen of the 38 members of the House that we have identified as opponents of the bill are members of the caucus. All 16 who were evaluated by VoteView have partisanship scores higher than the average. Outside of that caucus, three-quarters of those with scores were below average in terms of their partisanship.
We also considered the likely effects of the passage of the legislation. At least one House Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) announced her opposition based on the likelihood that constituents would lose coverage. The Center for American Progress developed estimates for each congressional district of the number of people who might lose coverage overall and, because data weren’t available for all states in that regard, how many were likely to lose individual coverage.
Again, the results were fairly evenly distributed.
(Ros-Lehtinen’s district is not represented on the first chart above, but is much higher than average in the second.)
The challenge for House Republican leaders is figuring out how they might find a bill that can appeal to enough people to ensure that the bill passes. Solidifying the Freedom Caucus would help, but that’s only part of the vote that Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and his team need to secure. The problem that follows is that the Freedom Caucus — on the right side of the spectrum — will want different and perhaps mutually exclusive things than people who are more moderate than average. Adding something to secure their votes may mean abandoning other votes somewhere else.
That’s the challenge. And it’s one that it doesn’t yet seem Ryan et al. have met.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed David M. Friedman to be the next ambassador to Israel, making him the first of President Trump’s selected foreign emissaries to take his post.
Friedman earned the support of only two Democrats in the 52-46 vote: Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). No Republicans opposed him.
Republican support for Friedman was a sure thing despite a rocky confirmation hearing last month, punctuated not only by protesters critical of his statements opposing a Palestinian state and supporting Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but also by Democratic senators concerned about the harsh rhetoric he has used to attack politicians whose Israel policy differs from his.
Top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said earlier this month that Friedman’s past practice of accusing his political opponents of anti-Semitism and a lack of support for Israel, as well as Friedman’s stated disdain for the two-state solution-driven Israeli-Palestinian peace process, were why he would vote against Friedman’s nomination. Other prominent Jewish Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), voted against Friedman’s confirmation as well.
“Mr. Friedman takes extreme positions that will move the two parties further from peace,” Feinstein said in a statement Thursday, adding that Friedman was “far too divisive to serve in our of our nation’s most sensitive diplomatic positions.”
Most Democrats were not convinced that Friedman’s concerted efforts during his confirmation hearing to walk back some of his more vitriolic comments were enough to recommend him for the post.
And following the vote, some Senate Democrats also expressed concern that with Friedman as ambassador, the two-state solution would now be in jeopardy.
“The current administration has expressed multiple viewpoints on the future, inviting concern that there may be a departure from decades of bipartisan U.S. support for a two-state solution,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement following the vote. “The nomination of Mr. Friedman to serve as ambassador to Israel adds to this concern.”
Throughout his campaign and since he took office, Trump has sent varying signals about his Israel policy. He floated the idea of scaling back aid to Israel before walking that back — the Trump administration now says that aid to Israel will not be affected by otherwise severe cuts to foreign aid. He has taken a noncommittal role on settlements, declaring they “may not be helpful” — after blasting the United Nations for voting in December 2016 to condemn Israeli settlement-building activity. And last month, during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States, Trump said that he “can live with either” a two-state or a one-state solution to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Friedman’s appointment has been highly anticipated by right-wing Israelis, especially those living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They are hopeful that Friedman’s past support for the settlements will translate as U.S. backing for boosting construction in the controversial communities. Most of the world, including the Obama administration, views settlements as illegal and as a major barrier to reigniting the peace process with the Palestinians. Israel disputes this.
In addition, Palestinians, who have been wary until now of perceived pro-Israel stance of the Trump administration, are concerned that Friedman will attempt to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestinians believe that this could have a disastrous impact on the peace process and on the stability and security of the entire, volatile region. Several Democratic members of Congress agree.
A phone call between Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week and a subsequent visit by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, has calmed some of their fears.
Still, the divided, sharply partisan vote was a notable departure from past votes to confirm ambassadors to Israel, considered one of the United States’ closest allies. Inside the Israeli government, the straight party-line vote indicated his confirmation was viewed less as a policy statement by lawmakers than as a statement on Trump’s ability to ram through a controversial appointment.
Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, posted his congratulations on Twitter, saying he was “looking forward to working closely with you to make the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”
Netanyahu tweeted, “New US ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump’s representative and as a close friend of Israel.”
Meanwhile J Street, a liberal Jewish organization that had lobbied against Friedman – and one whose members Friedman has likened to “kapos,” or Jewish Holocaust collaborators – noted that “almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote against them.”
Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this story.
Emmy-winning producer gets 13 years in prison for trying to kill Studio City tenant over Oscars joke
An Emmy-winning producer was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in state prison for trying to kill a tenant who laughed after he declared he would win five Academy Awards someday, authorities said.
Andre Bautista, known as Andre Bauth, was found guilty by a judge on Feb. 2 of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The prison sentence concludes a two-year saga that started on Sept. 8, 2015, in a boarding house in Studio City.
The 38-year-old Colombian actor and producer was the operator of the boarding house in the 3100 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
That day, prosecutors said, Bautista told the tenant that he would win multiple Oscars someday. When the tenant laughed, Bautista became upset and started arguing with him.
The tenant, who identified himself as Clayton Haymes to KCBS-TV, said, “When he said ‘five Oscars,’ we all kind of laughed a little bit, and he got really upset.”
Bautista was enraged and stormed out of the room, prosecutors said. He entered the kitchen and grabbed a knife, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bautista followed the tenant into another bedroom and stabbed him in the chest, piercing his lung, prosecutors said.
Bautista fled to Mexico after the attack.
Los Angeles police issued a warrant for Bautista’s arrest on Sept. 10, 2015. He surrendered a week later at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence indicating Bautista had written and starred in an independent movie with a plot twist similar to the charges he was facing.
The film portrayed a landlord who killed his tenants, prosecutors said.
Bautista won a daytime Emmy in 2015 as a producer for the online soap opera “The Bay.”
Should video from LAPD body cameras be released after a police shooting? If so, when? Police Commission wants to know
The Los Angeles Police Commission on Thursday launched its latest effort to answer one of the biggest questions facing law enforcement today, one that has increasingly tested the LAPD and other agencies as video consistently inspires fresh scrutiny of policing: When should footage from police body cameras be released?
Beginning Thursday, the civilian board that oversees the LAPD is asking residents for their answers to that question. The Police Commission is starting a roughly six-week effort to collect public feedback its members will consider before adopting a new policy governing when the LAPD will release video after a “critical incident,” such as a shooting by police.
Currently, the LAPD generally does not release video — whether it’s from officers’ body cameras, cameras in their patrol cars or other footage collected during the investigation — unless required in court. In recent months, however, police commissioners have said they believe it’s time to revisit that stance.
“This is probably the most significant issue around the use of body cameras,” said Matt Johnson, the president of the Police Commission, at a news conference Thursday. “It’s our mission to get this policy right.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has expressed concerns about releasing the footage, saying he wants to protect victims’ privacy and the integrity of criminal or civil cases. But he, like other police chiefs across the country, has been pressured to reconsider, particularly after high-profile shootings by officers.
In a rare move last fall, Beck released footage captured by a surveillance camera that showed 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr. holding a gun moments before he was fatally shot by police in South L.A. Beck said he acted out of concern for public safety as well as to correct statements by some who knew Snell and insisted the teen wasn’t carrying a gun.
“I think that all of our thinking has evolved,” Beck said Thursday. “I’m still reluctant to release all video, all the time. I don’t think that’s in anybody’s best interest. But I think in high-profile incidents, we have to recognize that the intense crush of public interest needs an outlet.”
But, the chief cautioned, the policy ultimately adopted by the commission would be “very much a balancing act of competing interests.
“Probably nobody will get exactly what it is they think should be the perfect policy,” he said. “Everybody has a different opinion on this.”
The commission brought in the Policing Project, a nonprofit based at New York University, to help. Barry Friedman, the director of the project, said his group had assisted police in Camden, N.J., and New York with similar efforts related to body cameras.
The project will collect the feedback — from public forms, questionnaires and interviews — and compile it in a report that will be submitted to the commission. Commissioners will use that report to draft a policy, Johnson said, which will then be presented to the public for an additional round of commentary.
Johnson said he hopes to have a final policy approved and in place in the coming months.
The first in a series of public forums will be held Thursday night in South L.A., starting at 6:30 at the Van Ness Recreation Center.
The LAPD has deployed about 2,700 body cameras to officers in the field, with plans to complete the 7,000-camera deployment by the end of the year.
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The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool has taken down Shia LaBeouf’s anti-Donald Trump “He Will Not Divide Us” art project just one day after its debut, marking the fourth such shutdown of the actor’s work since January.
In a statement on its Twitter page, FACT said it had removed the installation — which consisted of a flag with the phrase “He Will Not Divide Us” printed on it — from its rooftop due to “dangerous, illegal trespassing.”
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On police advice, FACT and LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner have removed the installation HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US due to dangerous, illegal trespassing.
— FACT (@FACT_Liverpool) March 23, 2017
The project — which LaBeouf launched with his frequent performance art collaborators Nastja Sade Ronkko and Luke Turner — began at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, with a webcam pointed toward visitors who were encouraged to stare into it and repeat the titular phrase as many times as they wished. The project was to have remained active for President Trump’s entire first term in office.
The museum shut down the project in February, saying the site had attracted groups of protesters and political violence.
LaBeouf and his partners then relocated the project to the outside of a theater in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, but that location was also abandoned after reports of gunshots in the area.
Earlier this month, LaBeouf relaunched the live stream with a simple white flag mounted at an undisclosed location. Using flight patterns and constellations, a group of Internet sleuths found the flag and replaced it with Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat.
Following that incident, LaBeouf announced this week that he would move the anti-Trump art project to the UK.
“Events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist,” LaBeouf, Ronkko and Turner wrote in a statement on the FACT website. “We are proud to be continuing the project at FACT, an arts centre at the heart of the community.”
LaBeouf, Ronkko and Turner had not yet commented on the installation’s removal by publication.
A representative for the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology did not immediately return Breitbart News’ request for comment.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum