Politics

New York Times

Clinton knocks Pompeo for vowing to release more of her emails

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dismissed her successor Mike Pompeo’s pledge to release more of her emails ahead of the election as “pathetic,” insisting that there is nothing of importance in her unreleased communications.

Dirty Tricks

Kamala Harris responds to Trump's birther attacks

Presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said President Donald Trump and his campaign will "engage in lies" and "deception" after he floated a new conspiracy last week about her eligibility to serve as vice president and president.

Brexit

Großbritannien lehnt Fristverlängerung endgültig ab

Trotz der Corona-Krise will Großbritannien die EU am 1. Januar 2021 verlassen. Damit steigt der Druck auf die Verhandlungspartner, sonst droht ein harter Bruch.

chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

'I should not have been there': Top general regrets Trump photo op

Gen. Mark Milley, the nation's top military officer, expressed his regret for walking with President Donald Trump across Lafayette Square for a photo op after authorities forcefully cleared the area of protesters, calling the appearance a "mistake."

Global protests

How George Floyd’s death reverberates around the world

Some might dispute whether America remains the “indispensable nation”, a phrase deployed in 1998 by Madeleine Albright, then the country’s secretary of state. But it is certainly still the nation that cannot be ignored, the one that, in a sense, sets the political weather globally.

Mitt Romney

Donald Trump bashes Mitt Romney

President Donald Trump began his week by making fun of Republican foe Mitt Romney for participating in a Black Lives Matter protest march on Sunday.

Shortnews

Ali Alexander

Facebook bans 'Stop the Steal' organizer

Facebook and Instagram have permanently banned one of the top organizers of the “Stop the Steal” protest that devolved into deadly riots on Capitol Hill last week. Within the last day, the company removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Ali Alexander, a far-right Republican operative who helped organize the event.

Read More
Ali Alexander

Facebook bans 'Stop the Steal' organizer

Facebook and Instagram have permanently banned one of the top organizers of the “Stop the Steal” protest that devolved into deadly riots on Capitol Hill last week. Within the last day, the company removed the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Ali Alexander, a far-right Republican operative who helped organize the event.

“We removed this account on both Facebook and Instagram for violating our Coordinating Harm policy,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement. He said the removal is part of Facebook’s decision to remove any content referring to “stop the steal” ahead of the inauguration.

Last Friday, according to the Daily Beast, Alexander posted a video on Twitter saying: “I didn’t incite anything. I didn’t do anything.” But in the lead up to the rally, Alexander had not only called for a march on the Capitol but hinted that it could get violent.

At one rally in mid-December in Arizona, he told the crowd, “One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks.’ I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!”

Alexander also said: “We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right? And if we have to explore options after that … ‘yet.’ Yet!”

And in an online video before the rally, he said, “I was the person who came up with the Jan. 6 idea” along with three other members of Congress. He also promised to help find hotel rooms for anyone attending the protest if the hotel they had reserved temporarily closed down.

Asked for comment about being banned by Facebook and Instagram, Alexander said he has “tens of thousands of threats against my life and safety by Democrat activists and Antifa.” He insisted that the violent demonstrations at the Capitol were entirely separate from the event he had organized, warned tech companies that his movement could be hijacked by “bad actors and dark elements” with him off their platforms, and said he’d testify before lawmakers.

“I eagerly look forward to speaking to Congress and testifying about the events that led to and happened on January 6th,” Alexander said.

“I fight for civil rights. I believe this election was stolen. I petitioned my government. I’m being punished for organizing millions of people,” he added in a text message.

In addition to Facebook and Instagram, Alexander has also been banned from Twitter, PayPal, and Venmo since the Jan. 6 events.

In 2007, Alexander pleaded guilty to a felony of property theft in Texas and the next year to a credit card abuse felony, also in Texas.

Alexander, also known as Ali Akbar, worked for the John McCain 2008 presidential campaign and has also worked on various political action committees, including one called Black Conservatives Fund to which Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer gave $60,000 in 2016.

In 2019, he got attention for accusing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris of not being “an American Black” since her dad is from Jamaica, a tweet that got him a retweet by Donald Trump Jr., although he later deleted it. That July, Alexander was invited to a social media summit hosted by the White House.

Capitol attack

Security concerns: Theft of two computers

At least two computers were stolen from the Capitol when a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the building on Wednesday – including one from the office of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi – raising grave information security concerns. An aide to Pelosi confirmed Friday that a laptop was stolen from the speaker’s office, saying it belonged “to a conference room and was used for presentations”, but did not elaborate further on what information it may contain.

Read More
Capitol attack

Security concerns: Theft of two computers

At least two computers were stolen from the Capitol when a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the building on Wednesday – including one from the office of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi – raising grave information security concerns. An aide to Pelosi confirmed Friday that a laptop was stolen from the speaker’s office, saying it belonged “to a conference room and was used for presentations”, but did not elaborate further on what information it may contain.

At least one other computer was stolen, a laptop belonging to the office of the Democratic senator Jeff Merkley, of Oregon. The acting US attorney, Michael Sherwin, said that some of the thefts might have potentially jeopardized what he described as “national security equities”.

The theft of electronic devices from congressional offices has been a persistent worry following the invasion by Trump supporters, who, incited by the president, entered the capitol in an effort to subvert the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

Staffers were quickly forced to shelter in place, leaving many devices vulnerable to the attackers. Photos posted by rioters from inside the Capitol showed exposed computers, including one in Pelosi’s office with an email inbox in full view. The impact of such a device being taken could be grave, said Brandon Hoffman, the chief information security officer at IT security provider Netenrich.

“Regardless of how much they want to downplay this, the laptop has to have at least access that could be leveraged,” he said. “It’s highly unlikely that this laptop was sitting there with no files, or file access, or any other useful information to somebody looking for leverage or retribution.”

What else might have been taken during the chaos is not yet known. Some information technology experts worry that intruders may have planted malicious software on computers, although it’s not clear that devices were a particular focus of the attack.

The concerns come as the US grapples with the aftermath of the biggest state-sanctioned hack of the government in history, after SolarWinds was breached and government email was accessed. Officials are still working to determine the extent to which government devices were violated in that breach, which is now being attributed to Russia. Nearly 10 agencies were impacted, including the US Treasury and Department of Commerce.

Bill Barr

Trump's behavior 'betrayal of his office'

William Barr, the former attorney general, released a scathing statement about Donald Trump’s behavior yesterday, as a mob stormed the US Capitol. Barr, who left office late last month, described the president’s conduct as a “betrayal of his office and supporters.” In a statement to the AP, Barr said that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

Read More
Bill Barr

Trump's behavior 'betrayal of his office'

William Barr, the former attorney general, released a scathing statement about Donald Trump’s behavior yesterday, as a mob stormed the US Capitol. Barr, who left office late last month, described the president’s conduct as a “betrayal of his office and supporters.” In a statement to the AP, Barr said that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

After a pro-Trump stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to evacuate, the president praised his supporters as “very special” and told them, “We love you!”

Trump also justified the mob’s actions yesterday by citing his baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential election, essentially blaming his opponents for the violence that left four dead.

Twitter removed three of Trump’s tweets about the storming of the Capitol due to a “risk of violence.”

Civil War

Trump adviser resigns

Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, and former chief of staff and current special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, have resigned. Two other senior White House officials – the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and the deputy chief of staff, Chris Liddell – are reportedly considering stepping down after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building.

Read More
Civil War

Trump adviser resigns

Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, and former chief of staff and current special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, have resigned. Two other senior White House officials – the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and the deputy chief of staff, Chris Liddell – are reportedly considering stepping down after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building.

Pottinger and Mulvaney’s departures comes amid speculation that others will also quit after the US president incited and praised rioters while continuing to air baseless grievances over his loss of the presidency.

“I called [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mick Mulvaney told CNBC on Thursday morning.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney added.

So far seven officials associated with Trump and his inner circle have said they are quitting, including members of Melania Trump’s team, after the deadly violence that surrounded the Congressional vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in November.

Senior Republican figures have also indicated splits from the president.

Tweeting from his personal account, O’Brien – a staunch Trump loyalist – praised the behaviour of the vice-president, Mike Pence, who resisted Trump’s pressure to overturn the election certification, while making no mention of Trump.

“I just spoke with Vice President Pence. He is a genuinely fine and decent man,” he tweeted. “He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him.”

In further fallout that underlined the fracturing of the Trump administration’s inner circles, Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, indicated to journalists he had been banned from the White House by Trump after the president “blamed” him for advice he gave to Pence on Trump’s demands he overturn the election result.

According to reports in the US media, some senior administration officials have also begun talking informally about invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president before his term expires on 20 January, while calls are also growing for a second impeachment to ensure Trump cannot run for public office again.

New York City

Spike in coronavirus infection rate

New York City is seeing a “very worrisome” sustained increase in Covid-19 infections across the five boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio and public health officials said Thursday. The city’s positive test rate hit 1.92 percent based on a seven-day average, the highest number in weeks and the first time the metric has seen a "meaningful jump" since the city began tracking it in September, de Blasio said. The one-day rate was even higher, at 2.7 percent.

Read More
New York City

Spike in coronavirus infection rate

New York City is seeing a “very worrisome” sustained increase in Covid-19 infections across the five boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio and public health officials said Thursday. The city’s positive test rate hit 1.92 percent based on a seven-day average, the highest number in weeks and the first time the metric has seen a "meaningful jump" since the city began tracking it in September, de Blasio said. The one-day rate was even higher, at 2.7 percent.

The city reported 532 new coronavirus cases — a number that has been hovering around the city’s 550 threshold for keeping the pandemic under control, which it breached earlier this week. While previous spikes were driven by outbreaks confined to certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, officials now say new cases are increasing across the city.

“We do see a slow and steady rise throughout many, many parts of the city,” said public health adviser Jay Varma.

The city plans to shut down its school system, which has reopened in fits and starts, if the positive test rate on a seven day average hits 3 percent. The mayor has called for shutting down indoor dining if it hits 2 percent, though the final decision would rest with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.