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On Oct. 4, the day four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were gunned down at the border of Niger and Mali in the deadliest combat incident since President Trump took office, the commander in chief was lighting up Twitter with attacks on the “fake news” media, says Philip Rucker and Dan Lamothe in a chronicle published by The Washington Post Wednesday. 
The next day, when the remains of the first soldiers reached Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Trump was assailing the “fake news” and warning the country of “the calm before the storm.” What storm, he never did say.
Over that weekend, as the identity of the fourth soldier was disclosed publicly and more details emerged about the incident, Trump was golfing and letting it rip on Twitter about Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the NFL, North Korea, Puerto Rico and, again, alleged media bias.
But a president who revels in providing color commentary on the news said nothing about what happened in Niger for 12 straight days — until Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House, where he was asked by a reporter to explain his uncharacteristic silence.
In his answer, Trump said in his defense that he had written personal letters to the soldiers’ family members, and he then tried to use the issue to gain a political advantage. Trump leveled false accusations at his predecessors, including former president Barack Obama, saying they never or rarely called family members of service members who were killed on their watch, when in fact they regularly did.
President Obama salutes as an Army team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. Dale R. Griffin at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Oct. 29, 2009. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
As anger swelled, Trump continued to attempt to bolster his broader claim Tuesday by invoking the death of Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, the son of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly who was killed in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.
The White House has not explained why Trump took so long to comment publicly about the Niger ambush, but officials said Tuesday that he was regularly briefed on the incident during that period. They declined to provide details.
The White House did not receive detailed information from the Defense Department about the four dead soldiers until Oct. 12, and that information was not fully verified by the White House Military Office until Monday, according to a senior White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment on the internal process.
At that point, the official said, Trump was cleared to reach out to the four families — both in letters that were mailed Tuesday and in personal phone calls to family members that day.
“He offered condolences on behalf of a grateful nation and assured them their family’s extraordinary sacrifice to the country will never be forgotten,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, died from wounds sustained during an ambush Oct. 4, 2017, in Niger. All three Soldiers were assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) on Fort Bragg. (U.S. Army/U.S. Army)
In his call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, Trump told her, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway,” according to the account of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.
Wilson recalled in an interview with The Washington Post that Johnson broke down in tears. “He made her cry,” Wilson said. The congresswoman said she wanted to take the phone and “curse him out,” but that the Army sergeant holding the phone would not let her speak to the president.
The White House neither confirmed nor denied Wilson’s account. “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.
But in a Twitter post Wednesday, Trump claimed Wilson “totally fabricated” her account of his call to the widow. Trump went on to back up his assertion by insisting he has “proof.”
“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Trump wrote.
Wilson stood her ground. Speaking on an MSNBC, she called Trump’s call “horrible” and “insensitive.”
“She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name,’” said Wilson.
Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary and White House chief of staff under Democratic presidents, said Trump should have more quickly conveyed the “deepest regrets of the country for the families that lost their loved ones.” He put some of the responsibility for Trump’s slow response on his staff.
“Somebody screwed up here, okay?” Panetta said. “You don’t let that amount of time pass when our men and women in uniform have been killed.”
[The Fact Checker: Trump’s claim that Obama didn’t make calls to families of the fallen]
Trump did not serve in the military — he sought and received several draft deferments during the Vietnam War — and has drawn pointed criticism in the past for his comments about military heroes.
As a presidential candidate, Trump mocked the service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and feuded with the Gold Star parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
And on his first full day as president, Trump used a speech before the Central Intelligence Agency’s wall of stars honoring intelligence officers who died in service to air his personal grievances, including about the media coverage of the size of his inaugural crowd.
Peter Wehner, an adviser and speechwriter in President George W. Bush’s White House, said communicating empathy and compassion has been for Trump like speaking “a foreign language.”
“Part of being a president is at moments being pastor in chief, dispensing grace and understanding and giving voice to sorrow, tragedy and loss,” Wehner said. “But he’s a person who’s missing an empathy gene.”
Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and former adviser to Bush and McCain, said he was surprised by Trump’s 12-day silence on the Niger attack.
“There is no issue too small for him to comment on,” Schmidt said. “He tweets at all hours of the morning and night on every conceivable subject. He has time to insult, to degrade, to demean always. But once again, you see this moral obtusity in the performance of his duties as commander in chief.”
Monday, 16 October 2017 13:46

President Trump Announces New Strategy in Iran

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WASHINGTON, DC._Last Friday, President Donald J. Trump announced his Administration’s strategy for addressing the rogue regime in Iran and announced his decision not to certify under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Act (INARA), a White House press release says Monday.
The strategy the President outlined included four major objectives, the first of which is working with allies to “counter the regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region.” President Trump also vowed to “place additional sanctions on the regime to block their financing of terror.” Third, the President plans to “address the regime’s proliferation of missiles and weapons that threaten its neighbors, global trade, and freedom of navigation.” Finally, the President promised to take necessary steps to “deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”
“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror," President Trump said.
Read the full announcement here.
Tax Reform
Today, the President will host a meeting with his Cabinet to discuss the Trump Administration’s plan for tax relief. President Trump’s plan will promote American economic prosperity through the implementation of four key priorities for tax reform – cutting taxes for every day Americans, simplifying the tax code, giving businesses a competitive edge, and investing in America. The Unified Framework will eliminate loopholes, reduce paperwork to once page, and bring back trillions of dollars of wealth parked overseas. President Trump’s tax reform plan is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker, and pro-America.
Learn more about President Trump’s tax reform plan here.
Donald Trump’s decision to go it alone with rapid fire announcements on healthcare and Iran reflects his boiling frustration with the limits of presidential power, analysts say.
David Smith
David Smith
A theguardian.com David Smith report, from Washington, D.C., says the US president made a brazen move on Thursday night to halt payments to insurers under Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Democrats accused him of a “temper tantrum” and spiteful attempt to sabotage legislation he promised but failed to replace. Less than 24 hours later, he condemned the “fanatical” government of Iran as he decertified his predecessor’s nuclear deal, defying his own cabinet and disquieting European allies.
The one-two punch showed Trump straining to assail Obama’s legacy but stopping short of terminating either the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, or the Iran nuclear accord. Both are back in the hands of Congress, a source of constant exasperation for the property tycoon turned novice politician, who finds himself isolated and lashing out.
“The Congress has been frustrating to him,” John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told reporters on Thursday. “Of course, our government is designed to be slow, and it is. His sense, I think, as a man who is outside the Washington arena, a businessman, much more of a man of action, I would say his great frustration is the process that he now finds himself [in].
“Because, in his view, the solutions are obvious, whether it’s tax cuts and tax reform, healthcare, infrastructure programmes, strengthening our military. To him, these all seem like obvious things that need to be done to protect the American people, bring jobs back.”
Since taking office 10 months ago as the first US president with no previous political or military experience, Trump has been given a crash course in the workings of government and the delicate balance of power between the White House, Capitol Hill and the courts. That his writ only runs so far has come as a rude awakening. His executive orders can only achieve so much, and frustrations have sometimes spilled out in impetuous speeches and tweets.
Rick Tyler, a political analyst and partner at Foundry Strategies, said: “He is acutely aware of the limits of presidential power. It’s not like being the CEO of a company where you just do what you want to do.
“By using executive orders, Trump is making something happen on healthcare. He’s prevented from changing it himself, but will force another branch of power to react. It’s the same on Iran.”
Having repeatedly vented his anger at the Republican-controlled Senate for failing to repeal and replace Obamacare, despite seven years of promises, Trump has now thrown a spanner in the works by ending the so-called cost-sharing subsidies that help people on low incomes. The White House claims the government cannot legally continue to pay the subsidies because it lacks formal authorization by Congress.
WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Donald Trump is criticizing hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and says the government can't keep federal aid there "forever," Associated Press says in a report.
Trump criticized the U.S. territory in a series of tweets Thursday. He says there is a "total lack of accountability" and "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes."
The president adds: "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"
The House is on track to back Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat.
Hurricane Maria struck Sept. 20. It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.
Donald Trump tuits Puerto Rico
In a visit to the island last week, Vice President Mike Pence vowed that the administration will be with Puerto Rico "every step of the way."
"I say to all of you gathered here today to the people of Puerto Rico: We are with you, we stand with you, and we will be with you every single day until Puerto Rico is restored bigger and better than ever before," he said.
Trump himself made a similar promise, saying in a Sept. 29 speech, "We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe." He added, "These are great people. We want them to be safe and sound and secure. And we will be there every day until that happens."
In 2015, Israeli government hackers saw something suspicious in the computers of a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm: hacking tools that could only have come from the National Security Agency, The Washington Post writer Ellen Nakashima says Wednesday.
In an extended chronicle, Nakashima says Israel notified the NSA, where alarmed officials immediately began a hunt for the breach, according to people familiar with the matter, who said an investigation by the agency revealed that the tools were in the possession of the Russian government. Here is the story:
Israeli spies had found the hacking material on the network of Kaspersky Lab, the global anti-virus firm under a spotlight in the United States because of suspicions that its products facilitate Russian espionage.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security instructed federal civilian agencies to identify Kaspersky Lab software on their networks and remove it on the grounds that “the risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.” The directive followed a decision by the General Services Administration to remove Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors. And lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering a governmentwide ban.
The NSA declined to comment on the Israeli discovery, which was first reported by the New York Times.
Kaspersky said in a statement that “as a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.” The company said it “does not possess any knowledge” of Israel’s hack.
The firm’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, said in a blog post last week that his anti-virus software is supposed to find malware from all quarters.
“We absolutely and aggressively detect and clean malware infections no matter the source,” he wrote, suggesting that the NSA hacking tools could have been picked up as malware by the anti-virus program.
In the 2015 case, investigators at the NSA examining how the Russians obtained the material eventually narrowed their search to an employee in the agency’s elite Tailored Access Operations division, which comprises hackers who collect intelligence about foreign targets. The employee was using Kaspersky anti-virus software on his home computer, according to the people familiar with the matter.
The employee, whose name has not been made public and is under investigation by federal prosecutors, did not intend to pass the material to a foreign adversary. “There wasn’t any malice,” said one person familiar with the case, who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing case. “It’s just that he was trying to complete the mission, and he needed the tools to do it.”Eugene Kaspersky chief executive of Russias Kaspersky Lab Pavel Golovkin APConcerns about Kaspersky have also emerged in the cybersecurity industry, where some officials say that the firm’s software has been used not just to protect its customers’ computers but also as a platform for espionage.
Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of Russia’s Kaspersky Lab. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Over the past several years, the firm has on occasion used a standard industry technique that detects computer viruses but can also be employed to identify information and other data not related to malware, according to two industry officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
The tool is called “silent signatures” — strings of digital code that operate in stealth to find malware but which could also be written to search computers for potential classified documents, using keywords or acronyms.

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President Trump continued to make vague threats toward North Korea on Saturday, saying that diplomatic negotiations and agreements over the years have not worked and that “only one thing will work,” without elaborating on what that one thing would be, the Washington Post report Sunday.
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid . . . hasn't worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!” Trump tweeted in two messages on Saturday afternoon, says report written by Jenna Johnson.
Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid......
North Korean officials have previously called some of Trump's comments and tweets declarations of war.
U.S. analysts have said that North Korea's nuclear program has quickly accelerated and the country is now making missile-ready nuclear weapons. Last week, tensions again escalated as North Korea threatened to shoot down U.S. military planes, even if they are not in the country’s airspace.
The president's latest tweets come as the world continues to try to decipher another cryptic message that Trump issued on Thursday night at the White House, as he posed for a photo with the country's top military leaders.
“You guys know what this represents?” Trump asked reporters in the room that night. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
When pressed to explain what he meant, Trump said: “You’ll find out.”
The White House has declined to explain what, if anything, the president meant with that comment.
“We’re never going to say in advance what the president’s going to do,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the Friday news briefing. “You’ll have to wait and see.”
As Trump left the White House on Saturday evening, reporters again asked him what the comment meant.
“Nothing to clarify,” the president said.
When pressed again on what he meant, Trump said: “Well, you'll figure that out pretty soon.”

Trump also said that he has “a very good relationship” with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, despite a report from NBC News this week that Tillerson has been deeply frustrated with the president and even referred to him a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon in late July. Trump doesn't believe that report, which was sourced to three officials, and again called it "fake news" on Saturday.
“We have a very good relationship,” Trump said of Tillerson on Saturday. “We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I'd like him to be a little bit tougher, but, other than that, we have a very good relationship.”
Tropical Storm Nate is getting faster and stronger on Friday as it heads toward the Gulf of Mexico, and the first hurricane warnings were issued in the U.S., according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Orlando Sentinel report.
With maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, Nate is moving north-northwest at 21 mph and was about 165 miles north-northeast of Isla Guanaja, Honduras, and about 175 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, according to the hurricane center’s 11 a.m. advisory.
It is expected to continue picking up speed over the next couple of days, the hurricane center predicted.
Nate is expected to reach the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, then move into the southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday night, according to the advisory. It should approach the Gulf coast Saturday night. Nate is expected to become a hurricane by the time it enters the northern Gulf and make landfall early Sunday near New Orleans, the hurricane center said.
A hurricane warning is now in effect from Grand Isla, La. to the Alabama/Florida border.
A Category 1 hurricane packs winds between 74 mph and 95 mph, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday declared a state of emergency in 29 counties in northern Florida.
The storm is not expected to impact Central Florida.
Nate drenched Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 22 deaths.
Louisiana officials declared a state of emergency and ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands. Evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.
In Nicaragua, Nate's arrival followed two weeks of near-constant rain that had left the ground saturated and rivers swollen. Authorities placed the whole country on alert and warned of flooding and landslides.
Nicaragua's vice president and spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, said that at least 15 people had died in that country because of the storm. She didn't give details on all the deaths, but said two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.
Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Organism blamed seven deaths in that country on the storm and said 15 people were missing. Flooding drove 5,000 residents into emergency shelters.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
LAS VEGAS — Jonathan Smith is likely to spend the rest of his life with a bullet lodged in the left side of his neck, a never-ending reminder of America’s deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The Washington Post report Friday.
Smith, a 30-year-old copy machine repairman, was shot Sunday night while trying to help save people after a gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas. He knows he’s one of the lucky ones to be able to walk out of the hospital, even with his severe injuries.
As the bullets rained down, family was Smith’s top concern. He had driven to Las Vegas from Orange County, Calif., on Thursday to celebrate the 43rd birthday of his brother, Louis Rust, a big country music fan who had attended the festival in the past. They spent the weekend enjoying the music and had scored seats close to the stage for Jason Aldean’s prime-time performance Sunday night.
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When the gunshots started, Smith initially thought they were fireworks. The music kept playing, Smith and Rust recalled. But the bullets kept coming. Aldean looked at his security guards and ran off the stage. Then the lights went out.
Rust realized what was really going on and told the entire extended family — all nine of them, including kids — to hold hands and run. By then, it was a stampede.
Smith was focused on saving his young nieces, but they separated in the crowd. He says he turned back toward the stage to look for them, he saw people hunched behind a sheriff patrol car at the northwest edge of the concert lawn. Others were so frightened they didn’t know what to do. He kept shouting, “Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run.”
He grabbed people and told them to follow him toward a handicapped parking area in the direction of the airport, away from Las Vegas Boulevard. It was a large field with several rows of vehicles. Smith and the others crouched down behind one of the last rows of cars.
“I got a few people out of there,” Smith said. “You could hear the shots. It sounded like it was coming from all over Las Vegas Boulevard.”
People take photos of the fountain at the Bellagio hotel in front of a memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
A few young girls weren’t fully hidden. He stood up and moved toward them to urge them to get on the ground. That’s when a bullet struck him in the neck.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Smith from the Sunrise Hospital lobby Monday afternoon as he was waiting for his final discharge. He has a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung. The doctors are leaving the bullet in his neck for now. They worry moving it might cause more damage.
“I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,” Smith said, grimacing from the pain. A large white bandage covers the bullet hole.
Smith believes an off-duty San Diego police officer likely saved his life. The officer came over and tried to stop the bleeding and then flagged down passing cars to try to get Smith a ride. Many just drove by, but a pickup truck stopped and Smith was put in the back of it along with several other wounded victims. By then, he was struggling to breathe.
“I really didn’t want to die,” Smith recalled. The off-duty officer kept telling him he would be okay, just as he had said a few minutes earlier to other concertgoers.
Smith later reconnected with his brother and found out that his nieces — along with the rest of his family — made it out safely.
On Twitter and Reddit, many were quick to hold up Smith as a hero. A photo of Smith has been shared more than 74,000 times, with 177,000 “likes.”
“I don’t see myself that way,” he said. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.”
For four days, investigators have pored over the life of Stephen Paddock and for four days, the man who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history has largely remained an enigma, a Washingtton Post report by Mark Berman, Matt Zapotosky, Sandhya Somashekhar and William Wan, says Friday.
They have searched Paddock’s homes, scoured his computers, assessed his finances and explored his travel history. So far, they have uncovered a complex web of clues, and no clear answers about why.
In the months before he carried out the Las Vegas massacre, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500 others, Paddock booked hotel rooms at two other major outdoor music festivals. The reservations were curious for a man who friends and neighbors say was decidedly anti-social, but investigators are now working to determine if they were a significant foreshadowing of things to come, or meaningless travels of someone with the means to fly around the country.
A real estate broker who helped Paddock sell multiple properties in California more than a decade ago said the future gunman expressed dislike for taxes and the government — even selling off a series of buildings in California to move his money to the low-tax havens of Texas and Nevada.
But the agent, who asked not to be identified discussing Paddock, said they never knew Paddock to be political or ideological. A person familiar with the investigation into the massacre said these anti-government views alone didn’t explain why Paddock would head to a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, break out the windows and open fire into a crowd of unsuspecting citizens.
This much is certain: Paddock, 64, aimed for maximum destruction. He had with him in the suite 23 guns, a dozen of them equipped with bump stocks that would allow for rapid fire, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition that he never fired.
These bump stocks have become a flash point since the shooting, and on Thursday the National Rifle Association — in its first statement since the massacre — echoed others in calling for more regulations on the devices.
Investigators searching Paddock’s car also found several cases containing the chemical tannerite, an explosive, and 1,600 more rounds of ammo.
[Vegas shooter’s rampage came from a place central to his lifestyle: A casino]
But Paddock, who killed himself before police stormed his suite, left precious few clues about his motive. There was a slip of paper in his suite, authorities said, but it was not a suicide note. As of Thursday afternoon, the only new information to publicly emerge from searches of Paddock’s electronic equipment were details of his possible travel plans.
He had booked space at the Blackstone Hotel near Chicago’s Lollapalooza in August, and the following month, reserved a room at the Ogden in Las Vegas during the Life is Beautiful festival.
Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/10/05/las-vegas-shooting-motive-remains-elusive-as-new-details-emerge-about-attack/?utm_term=.0a9b7670426e&wpisrc=nl_az_most&wpmk=1

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A bystander was struck by a bullet as a man tried to fend off a suspect in a home invasion in Orlando, Wesh2 report.
The Orlando Police Department said they received a call about a burglary on Messina Avenue just before 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. While heading to the scene, officers were called to another address on Marbello Boulevard for a shooting.
When officers arrived on scene they learned the suspect from Messina Avenue had kicked in a door at a home on Marbello Boulevard first, authorities said.
A man inside grabbed a handgun and had some sort of physical altercation with the suspect when a woman, who was also inside the home, was shot unintentionally, according to police.
Police said the attempted burglar ran from Marbello Boulevard to Messina Avenue where he broke a window of a home to get inside.
Officers were able to arrest the suspect at the home on Messina Avenue.
The woman who was shot is in stable condition.
Police said the suspect, whose name was not released, will be charged with numerous felonies.
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