ICE Operation Arrests 100 Criminal Aliens

Tom Homan e1513098572790 150x150 - ICE Operation Arrests 100 Criminal Aliens

Federal agents arrested more than 100 foreign nationals wanted for immigration violations in a five-day operation in New Jersey, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday.

The operation, led by ICE’s enforcement and removal division, netted a total of 101 illegal immigrants who were either criminal aliens, had illegally re-entered the country after being deported, or had an outstanding order of removal.

Immigration officials said 88 percent those arrested were convicted criminals and 80 percent of them had prior felony convictions for crimes including sexual assault of a minor, possession of child pornography and aggravated assault.

“The continued results of our Fugitive Operations officers and their law enforcement partners underscore ICE’s ongoing and steady commitment to public safety,” John Tsoukaris, field office director of ERO Newark, said in a statement. “As part of this operation, we continue focus on the arrest of individuals who are criminal and are a threat to public safety and national security.”

The New Jersey operation is the latest in a series of major operations by the increasingly aggressive immigration enforcement agency, that President Donald Trump has empowered as a part of his crackdown on illegal immigration. In a departure from the previous administration’s guidelines, nearly anyone illegally present in the U.S. is now subject to arrest and deportation, regardless of criminal history.

That guidance has led to a surge in interior arrests in the first nine months of the Trump administration. From January to the end of fiscal year on Sept. 30, ICE made about 110,000 arrests — 40 percent more than in did during the same period in 2016.

About a quarter of ICE arrests in fiscal year 2017 were of so-called non-criminal aliens, or illegal immigrants who had not been convicted of other crimes. Critics of the administration’s immigration policies say these arrests are unfairly targeting illegal immigrants who don’t pose a threat to public safety.

Immigrant advocates and some local judicial officials have also complained about the practice of arresting immigration fugitives in courthouses, saying it interferes with the justice system and creates mistrust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

ICE officials have pushed back against the accusation that the agency is indiscriminately targeting all illegal immigrants regardless of criminality. Ninety-two percent of aliens arrested between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 had a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, had an outstanding order of removal, or had illegally re-entered the U.S. after being deported, acting ICE director Thomas Homan said last weel.

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Countdown To A Rate Hike… – Daily Pfennig

Chuck Butler’s: A Pfennig For Your Thoughts 

December 12, 2017  

* Dollar resumes its rally…

* An Engineered takedown?

* A short-n-sweet Pfennig today… 

Good Day… And a Tom Terrific Tuesday to you! Another day, and another late edition of the Pfennig… UGH! I don’t know where the mornings go any longer… Instead  of me getting up and making my way to the writing desk and my laptop, I get up and begin the process of giving myself antibiotics through a PICC-line… Sound easy, and it is, but it’s time consuming, and before I know it, the morning is almost gone, and I haven’t gotten the Pfennig out yet! UGH!  Today marks the halfway mark of the 6 weeks that I’m scheduled to doing this, so I ask that you stay with me for 3 more weeks, and then things should be back to normal… Maybe…  ’cause you never know!   Robin Trower greets me today with his song: Bridge of Sighs…  

I don’t like doing this, but given the lack of news, and the tardiness of the Pfennig, this will be a short-n-sweet edition today.

Well… The board games have been taken off the shelves at the Eccles Building, and the Fed members are busing playing Sorry, Battleship, and Monopoly today. Longtime readers know that I’ve kidded about this for years, and it all started when in an interview, I was asked, what I thought the Fed members were talking about for two days?   I replied, that they must be playing board games, and I can hear one of them saying now, “by Joe, you’ve sunk my battleship”!  

So, today begins the two-day FOMC meeting, that will culminate in a rate hike tomorrow afternoon… I’ve put my tail between my legs on this one folks… I still think it would be the prudent thing to do, to bypass the rate hike now, and wait to see what the lawmakers do about a budget. But since when does the Fed do the prudent thing? 

The “boys in the band” have used this market thinking that a rate hike is in the cards tomorrow, to pile on the short paper trades, so much that now real Gold and Silver investors are panicking and selling… Don’t do that! Do not panic! If you need to sell, then sell, but don’t panic!  This is just an engineered take down of Gold & Silver to test the managed money holders’ resolve…  Gold lost nearly $7 yesterday and is down another $7 today… 

But, here’s the thing that bugs me… yesterday’s low came in the after markets trading… The “boys in the band” are really getting brazen with their trading, folks, and just like the criminals that Elliot Ness used to chase on TV years ago, once they become cocky, they expose themselves, and get caught… We can only hope that someone with some intestinal fortitude, stands up and says, “This is a crock!” “And I’m not going to stand for it any longer!”   

Well,  yesterday I told you that I thought the dollar rally would resume again any day, after taking a two-day breather, and in the overnight markets that’s what happened, but the move isn’t really BIG at this point, but it sure feels like it’s going to burst out soon…  The Dollar Index  had moved over the 94 handle to 94.19 this morning, yesterday it was 93.88, and last week, it was in the low 93 handle before all this dollar buying began. 

And I really don’t have much more to say about that today… I could go on and on about how it’s really not a smart thing to do to hike rates when you want inflation to rise, but I’ve done that many times in the past, so I’ll just leave you with that thought once again today… 

And the Data Cupboard isn’t giving us any clues or ideas as to where the currencies should be trading. Yesterday’s Cupboard was bare, and today’s only has the Federal Budget, which we already know will be a deficit, and PPI (wholesale inflation), which I expect to be a little stronger than the average bear.  But other than that, there are no real economic data prints, as they data schedulers have cleared the deck for the Fed announcement tomorrow.   

To recap…  The dollar has the conn again this morning, and everyone is of the belief that the Fed will hike rates tomorrow afternoon… Chuck points out that it’s not the prudent thing to do right now, but has given up the ghost on his holding out on no rate hike… UGH!  Gold & Silver are seeing engineered takedowns, in Chuck’s opinion, so don’t panic!  

Before I head to the Big Finish today, I wanted to talk about this… I was very bummed out when my favorite Cardinals player that I got to see his entire career, Ted Simmons missed the Hall of Fame election by one vote! Ted and I worked together (in his offseason) back at Mark Twain Bank in 1981.. What a great guy! And at that point he had been traded to the Brewers by Whitey Herzog. I was never going to forgive Whitey for that move, but then he won the World Series in 1982, against the Brewers, and while not all was forgiven, some was… But if you ever want to compare Ted Simmons’ stats VS other catchers that are in the HOF, go ahead, and you’ll be amazed that this man is not in the HOF… It’s shame, and a black mark on the HOF committee! 

For What It’s Worth…  I haven’t really had the opportunity yet to really dive into the Tax Reform Bill, but my long time friend, Bill Bonner did, and here’s his take on it, which can be found here:  

Or, here’s your snippet: “But the broad brushstrokes are so obvious, they must be visible from outer space: It is a scam.

Its real effect will be to enable the transfer of trillions of dollars more from the productive economy to the zombies, cronies, and Deep State insiders… leaving slower real economic growth and leaving most people poorer.

Yes, some people will benefit in the short run. But most will suffer as the years pass… as the tax bill will add $1.8 trillion or more to U.S. debt.

Then, with lower tax revenues and rising expenses from 70 million retiring baby boomers, the country will go broke.
Could foreigners do that? Unh-unh… This is a Made in America disaster.” 

Chuck again… Thanks to Bill for doing some of my work for me! HA!  But $1.8 Trillion to our national debt? I told you that I would find that the Bill was not revenue/ debt neutral as it was billed to be!   

Currencies today 12/12/17… American Style: A$ .7550, kiwi .6928, C$ .7765, euro 1.1727, sterling 1.3318, Swiss $1.0078, … European Style: rand 13.7016, krone 8.3651, SEK 8.4418, forint 267.75, zloty 3.5917, koruna 21.8575, RUB 59.08, yen 113.65, sing 1.3534, HKD 7.8063, INR 64.50, China 6.6156, peso 19.18, BRL 3.2916, Dollar Index 94.19, Oil $57.69, 10-year 2.41%, Silver $15.69, Platinum $875.69, Palladium $1,008.88, and Gold… $1,008.88  

That’s it for today… Well, the doc says I’m doing great! took the stitches out, and sent me on my way! Thanks to darling daughter Dawn for taking me and then having to wait through the whole process… I’ve been given the green light to drive now, but getting in and out of a car is still a major ordeal for me, so for now, I think I’ll stay put… Alex stopped by last night to check on me… I’m so proud of him, he has really grown into a great  person. I now have three adult children who I can’t say enough good things about each of them…  I’m proud of all of them… OK, enough of the sappy stuff, Buddy Miles takes us to the finish line today with his redo of the Neil Young song: Down By The River…   Thanks for reading the Pfennig, even when it’s so late! I hope you have a Tom Terrific Tuesday, and Be Good To Yourself! 

Chuck Butler

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POLITICO Playbook: GAME DAY in Alabama

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Good Tuesday morning. Hanukkah begins tonight. IT IS ELECTION DAY IN ALABAMA, and voters will choose between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. REPUBLICANS’ GOAL: Pass the tax bill before the new senator gets seated. Moore or Jones will be seated after Dec. 20, we hear.

NEW: WE HEAR if everything goes according to plan, the Senate could vote on the negotiated tax plan next Monday or Tuesday, and the House would then vote Tuesday or Wednesday. The negotiated House-Senate tax plan is scheduled to be filed this Friday. This timeframe is designed to give adequate time to deal with government funding, which expires next Friday, and a deal to boost spending caps. Of course, a million things can go wrong between now and then. But this is what’s being discussed at the top levels of Republican leadership.

Story Continued Below

GAME DAY IN ALABAMA — “Moore, wife blast Washington establishment and media in final appeal,” by Alex Isenstadt and Gabe Debenedetti in Midland City, Alabama: “A defiant Roy Moore returned to the campaign trail Monday evening, delivering a thundering speech at an election eve rally in which he implored Alabamians to ignore outsiders who he said were bent on stopping him in the Senate special election. ‘We dare to defend our rights and we will defend our rights,’ Moore, who has been abandoned by much of the Republican Party establishment, told an audience of several hundred packed into a barn. ‘We’re up to our neck in people that don’t want change in Washington, D.C., they want to keep their power, keep it the same, keep their positions, and we’ve got to change that.’

“The 24-minute speech served as the capstone of a campaign that has thrust the special election into a spiraling national dialogue over sexual harassment. Moore, a twice-removed controversial former state Supreme Court justice, has faced allegations that he preyed on teenage girls as a man in his 30s. As he has done in the past, Moore denied the allegations against him — this time, calling them ‘disgusting’ and reiterating his belief that they emerged just weeks before the election in an attempt to defeat him. He cast the accusations as part of a broader, establishment-led effort to destroy him and to undermine his character. Neither Republicans nor Democrats, he argued, wanted him in the Senate.

“Moore also pointed out that both parties had spent millions against him, first in the Republican primary and then in Tuesday’s general election, when he faces Democrat Doug Jones. Yet the ‘verdict’ of the race, he said, wasn’t up to the Washington political class or the members of the national media who were also in attendance. ‘If you don’t believe in my character,’ he added, ‘don’t vote for me.’”

DANIEL STRAUSS: “Alabama Senate election: 5 things to watch”:

— LESSONS LEARNED: “Pollsters dodge Alabama prediction game,” by Steven Shepard: “Who’s leading in Tuesday’s special Senate election in Alabama? The race is so peculiar and has so many variables that some pollsters are reluctant to say. Rather than put out a single result that could be viewed as a projection in the race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore, several polling outfits have simply released a number of different turnout models that explain how the composition of the electorate could swing the election. It’s an approach that they say best reflects the tremendous uncertainty surrounding a historically unusual, off-year, mid-December special election in a racially polarized state — where one candidate is an accused child molester.”

ON THE GROUND — @daveweigel: “Roy Moore’s wife Kayla: ‘Fake news will tell you that we don’t care for Jews. One of our attorneys is a Jew!’ #ALsen”. 36-second video “Among those spotted at the Roy Moore event tonight: Steve Bannon sipping Red Bull, Louie Gohmert, Paul Nehlen and Sheriff David Clarke”.

— MYSTERY SOLVED: “Secret super PAC backing Jones in Alabama exposed,” by Gabe Debenedetti in Birmingham, Alabama: “A mystery super PAC backing Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama is controlled by a pair of groups closely aligned with the national Democratic Party, even as the candidate strives to dissociate himself from Washington interests. Highway 31, which dropped more than $4.1 million in support of Jones and against Roy Moore ahead of Tuesday’s Senate special election, is a joint project of two of the largest national Democratic super PACs — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action — along with a group of Alabama Democrats, multiple senior officials familiar with the arrangement told POLITICO. Highway 31 was created in November, [FEC] filings show. …

“The groups have collected checks from a gamut of top Democratic donors, led by longtime party contributors like George Soros, Jim Simons, Haim Saban and Fred Eychaner. While both Jones and Moore have gotten support from other outside groups in recent weeks, Highway 31 is by far the biggest-spending.”

FOR THOSE SEEKING STEVE BANNON’S BACKING, from Bloomberg’s Josh Green: “Bannon worked to create a counter-narrative that ultimately would change many Republicans’ perception of the [Roy Moore] scandal. A former filmmaker, he’s long been captivated by the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl, the Nazi filmmaker, and the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein for their power to shape public sentiment. Earlier this year, Bannon told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer his 2012 anti-Obama film ‘The Hope and the Change,’ had consciously mimicked Riefenstahl’s infamous, ‘Triumph of the Will.’ Her film, he added, ‘seared into me’ that unhappy voters could be influenced if they felt they were being conned.

“‘Riefenstahl and Eisenstein both created an image of their nation that coalesced in the minds of citizens and shaped public opinion through narratives, which is essentially what Bannon is doing in politics,’ says Nadia Szold, a filmmaker and documentarian who has studied Bannon’s films and discussed his influences with him. ‘They all evoke emotions like nostalgia, patriotism or paranoia that strengthen a collective sentiment.’”

CRUNCH TIME ON TAXES — “GOP lawmakers struggle to close gaps in tax plan,” by Bernie Becker, Aaron Lorenzo and Seung Min Kim: “Top congressional Republicans, racing to hammer out a final tax agreement by the end of the week, have yet to make any breakthroughs on a range of key issues. House and Senate negotiators bounced proposals back and forth over the weekend, but said Monday that they still had to find compromises on where to set the corporate tax rate, how to treat millions of businesses that aren’t set up as corporations and how much of a deduction to allow for state and local taxes.

“‘We speak of little else these days,’ said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). On the House side, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) deflected questions about a slew of potential trouble spots, also including the estate tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax and the fate of an existing law barring churches and other tax-exempt groups from openly politicking. Asked Monday what differences the House and Senate had resolved, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) responded: ‘Well, nothing really.

“‘I don’t think you can say at this point anything is really nailed down,’ added Thune, a member of GOP leadership and the tax conference committee working to settle the chambers’ differences. ‘But I think the way it’s shaping up right now, I feel like we’re getting pretty close, and every time that we have an exchange of offers the differences are narrowing.’”

— THEIR GOAL is to have a tax bill on the president’s desk by Dec. 20, but time is quickly slipping away.

COMING ATTRACTIONS? — “Looming pension shortfalls to complicate next shutdown fight,” by Elana Schor: “The next potential sleeper cause of a government shutdown? Pensions. Congress barely averted a shutdown last year amid a fight over miners’ health care. Now the looming collapse of pension plans for the miners — as well as thousands of Teamster truck drivers and food service workers — is fueling another, even more expensive, round of brinkmanship.

“Key Democrats are vowing to fight for a fix as part of any forthcoming deal to fund the government. And they warn that if Congress doesn’t step in soon to forestall the insolvency of several key pension plans — including the massive Central States plan, which covers an estimated 400,000 union workers and retirees — taxpayers risk ending up on the hook for an even bigger multi-billion-dollar rescue for the government’s pension guarantee agency. But it’s far from clear the workers will get their rescue. Conservative Republicans will be loath to provide anything that looks like a bailout, particularly for union workers. And one of the Senate’s leading Democratic advocates for relief, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, is one of the GOP’s top targets ahead of his reelection next year.”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: UAE airlines bought $42 billion in US-made commercial aircraft at the 2017 Dubai Airshow. That’s economic growth and jobs for Americans. The UAE-US commercial aviation relationship is a win-win deal. ******

INSIDE BLAKE FARENTHOLD’S OFFICE — “Texas Congressman Runs What Former Aides Call a Hostile Workplace,” by NYT’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “Throughout the Capitol, House aides have described office cultures where sexually explicit conversations are routine, pickup lines are part of daily life, hiring can be based on looks, tolerance is expected and intolerance of such behavior is career-ending. In Farenthold’s case, legal documents and interviews with former aides suggest an atmosphere in which the congressman set the tone for off-color jokes and inappropriate banter, which flourished among his underlings. … [Elizabeth] Peace and another former aide to Mr. Farenthold, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of harming that aide’s reputation, described an atmosphere in his Washington office that was freewheeling, yet also filled with anxiety. The congressman, they said, was volatile.

“When he was angry, they added, Mr. Farenthold would berate them, sometimes sweeping his arm across his desk, knocking its contents to the floor, and threatening to fire people. … The refrigerator in the ‘bullpen’ — the open area where aides worked — was filled with beer, and sometimes happy hour would begin at 4:30 p.m., which his aides called ‘beer-thirty.’ Ms. Peace said women would discuss which male lobbyists had texted them pictures of their genitals, and both men and women would talk about strip clubs and whether certain Fox News anchors had breast implants.”

— “#MeToo spotlight increasingly pointed at past Trump conduct,” by AP’s Jonathan Lemire: “The president’s advisers were stunned Sunday when one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration [Nikki Haley] broke with the White House line and said the accusers’ voices ‘should be heard.’ … Haley’s comments infuriated the president, according to two people who are familiar with his views but who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.”

HAPPENING TOMORROW — HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI is hosting a meeting tomorrow to “discuss sexual harassment prevention policies and the ME TOO Congress Act legislation.” California Rep. Jackie Speier and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Charlotte Burrows and Chai Feldblum will speak.

WAR REPORT — “White House hides troop numbers in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan,” by Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox: “The White House left out the number of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from a semi-annual accounting it provided to Congress on Monday. In a previous report, sent to Congress in June, the administration had said how many Americans are in those war zones.

“The omissions reflect President Trump’s eagerness to keep secret the size of U.S. deployments in some global hot spots under the theory that the numbers, no matter how vague, might give extremists and other enemies a strategic advantage, a senior administration official told Yahoo News. Military, congressional and even some other administration officials privately dispute that notion and say some transparency is necessary for informed debate about America’s use of force. It is unclear whether the administration detailed the figures to Congress in a classified addendum to the letter.”

— “DOJ seeks emergency halt to transgender troop deadline,” by Jacqueline Klimas: “The Trump administration on Monday night requested an emergency stay to a court decision that would require the Defense Department to begin accepting transgender recruits on Jan. 1. The action came hours after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the military must begin accepting transgender recruits on New Year’s Day — the latest action to stall President Donald Trump’s proposed ban. The Justice Department then turned to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the Pentagon will still be reviewing the policy until February but needs a stay now.”

IN THE MIDDLE EAST — “Hezbollah Leader Calls for Arab Countries to Stop Seeking New Ties With Israel,” by NYT’s Nada Homsi in Beirut: “The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah called on Monday for Arab countries to support the Palestinian cause and abandon their pursuit of normalizing relations with Israel.

“Speaking via a video feed at a rally in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, that was organized to protest President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, called on Arab and Muslim countries to evict Israeli embassies and cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

“‘Today we are witnessing a true intifada,’ or uprising, Mr. Nasrallah told the crowd, speaking of protests that have spread throughout the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. ‘Muslims and Christians are all united to defend their holy sites in Jerusalem.’ The rally drew thousands of protesters and was the largest yet in Lebanon in response to Mr. Trump’s Jerusalem declaration last week, which upset a decades-old diplomatic status quo.”

PUTIN’S MIDDLE EAST PLAY, by NYT’s Neil MacFarquhar in Moscow and Anne Bernard in Beirut: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia undertook a whirlwind tour to his new allies in the Middle East on Monday, underscoring the extension of Russia’s influence in the region and the continuing shrinkage of the United States’ role.

“Mr. Putin touched down in rapid succession in Syria and Egypt, where he met briefly with their leaders, and landed in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, later in the day. His excursion came as anger at the United States was running high over President Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, as the capital of Israel. That decision has helped isolate the United States and Israel, angering allies in Europe and the Arab world while helping to convince the Arab public that the United States is solidly anti-Muslim.”

SPICER RETURNS — “Spicer writing book about White House tenure,” by Brent D. Griffiths: “Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Monday night that he is writing a book about his brief run behind the podium, taking readers ‘behind the scenes of his turbulent tenure.’ ‘I’ve decided that it is incumbent on me to set the record straight,’ Spicer told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night.

“‘I looked back at the coverage of the campaign, the transition and the first six, seven months of this White House and realized that the stories that are being told are not an accurate represent[ation] of what President Trump went through to get the nomination, to transition to the White House and then his first six months in office.’ His book titled ‘The Briefing’ will be published by Regnery Publishing, which calls itself ‘the leader in conservative books,’ in July.”

TRUMP’S TUESDAY — The president will sign the National Defense Authorization Act. He will also meet with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty. VP MIKE PENCE speaks to the Values Action Team on Capitol Hill, and has lunch with Senate Republicans.


— SNEAK PEEK: REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-N.C.), the party’s chief deputy whip, will announce a $1 million transfer to the NRCC at this morning’s House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, according to a source familiar with his plans. McHenry has transferred nearly $1.85 million to the party committee this year. McHenry has raised roughly $5 million for his House GOP colleagues and roughly $7.5 million overall.

— JEH JOHNSON, former DHS secretary and current partner at Paul Weiss, is joining the board of directors of Lockheed Martin. Directors make roughly $300,000 in equity and cash.

— SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND, a super-PAC closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, held a private political discussion and appreciation reception Monday night. SLF President and CEO Steven Law noted in his remarks that 2017 was a record fundraising year for the group. SPOTTED: McConnell, Karl Rove, NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Republican Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Todd Young (Ind.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

OUT AND ABOUT IN NYC — Last night in TriBeCa Dan Senor hosted a private screening for the premiere of the second season of the Israeli thriller “Fauda,” followed by a panel discussion with co-creator Avi Issacharoff and lead members of the cast, including Lior Raz (Doron) and Shadi Mari (Walid). Trailer for the second season

SPOTTED: Alexandra Pelosi, Bret Stephens, Jon Lerner, Bari Weiss, Cy Vance, Ben Wallace, Jamie Gangel, Dan Silva, Gabe Sherman, Campbell Brown, Michael Aronov, Greg Zuckerman, Abe Greenwald, Noah Rothman, Banks Tarver, Dan Selig, David Bushman, Jay Lefkowitz, Ethan Bronner, Josh Block, Matthew Hiltzik, Mosheh Oinounou, Reihan and Kathryn Salam, Rich Lowry, Richard Cohen, Sewell Chan, Sohrab Ahmari, Stu Loeser and Roger Bennett. (NOTE from Jake: If you don’t watch Fauda, you should. It’s one of the best shows on television. Season one is on Netflix.)

LATE NIGHT BEST — After taking last week off because of his son Billy’s second open heart surgery, which was successful, JIMMY KIMMEL made a tearful return to his show last night and made the case for CHIP funding. 5-min. video

ISAAC DOVERE talks with DAVID PETRAEUS for the latest OFF MESSAGE podcast — “David Petraeus Would Still Work for Trump, Under ‘Certain Conditions’: Life is good for the former CIA director and four-star general. But he’s keeping his options open”: Isaac talks to retired four star general and CIA director, who offers his battlefield advice in response to Trump’s saying he’s winning the war against ISIS and that previous administrations weren’t letting troops win: “Be first with the truth.” “There are other presidents who have also made some declarations that they undoubtedly wished that they hadn’t made,” he said.

He’s not on Twitter, but he sees the tweets. “What you should follow more is the troops, the money and the substance of policies, which we can overlook if we get too mesmerized by reading tweets,” he says. What he sees: “more continuity than you might have expected,” though he worries about Trump’s “occasional ambivalence about what does ‘America First’ mean relative to the traditional role of the United States in the post-World War II era and particularly, in the post-Cold War era.”

BLAKE HOUNSHELL in POLITICO Magazine, “Paul Manafort’s Dirty Secret: He’s a Terrible Propagandist: If bad editing’s a crime, lock him up”: “We must first indict Manafort for letting [Oleg] Voloshin’s proposed headline [in the Kyiv Post] stand. Typically, authors don’t write their own, but sometimes an editor will accept a suggestion out of sheer inertia or a lack of creativity. (It’s fine to offer a good one when you file your draft — just don’t insist on it or editors will consider you gauche and difficult to work with.)

“In this case, Voloshin had come up with a real stinker: ‘European integration unknown soldier.’ A bad headline can be fatal even to a good piece of writing. Manafort should have proposed his own. In this age of social media-fueled narcissism, it’s usually best to go with a first-person hed when you have the opportunity. I might have suggested something a bit more web-friendly, such as, ‘I Know Paul Manafort. He’s No Russian Stooge.’”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Fearing the Worst, China Plans Refugee Camps on North Korean Border,” by NYT’s Jane Perlez in Beijing: “A Chinese county along the border with North Korea is constructing refugee camps intended to house thousands of migrants fleeing a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to an internal document that appears to have been leaked from China’s main state-owned telecommunications company. Three villages in Changbai County and two cities in the northeastern border province of Jilin, have been designated for the camps, according to the document from China Mobile. … The camps are an unusual, albeit tacit, admission by China that instability in North Korea is increasingly likely, and that refugees could swarm across the Tumen River, a narrow ribbon of water that divides the two countries.”

— “North Korea’s prisons are as bad as Nazi camps, says judge who survived Auschwitz,” by WaPo’s Anna Fifield in Tokyo: “North Korea’s political prisons are just as bad as — and perhaps even worse than — the Nazi concentration camps of the Holocaust, a renowned judge and Auschwitz survivor has concluded after hearing from former North Korean prisoners and guards. Thomas Buergenthal, who served on the International Court of Justice, is one of three jurists who have concluded that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity for the way his regime uses brutal political prisons to control the population.”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: Boeing is the preferred supplier for UAE commercial aviation requirements. Over the past 10 years, UAE customers have ordered $150 billion in Boeing planes, supporting 781,000 jobs in the US and injecting billions of dollars into the US economy. In 2016, the US had a $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE, America’s third largest trade surplus globally. ******

MEDIAWATCH — “New Yorker fires Ryan Lizza over alleged ‘improper sexual conduct,’” by Michael Calderone: “The New Yorker magazine announced Monday it had fired Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza following an allegation of sexual misconduct. … In a statement, Lizza said the magazine made ‘a terrible mistake’ and rejected its characterization of his relationship. ‘I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate,’ he said. … Douglas Wigdor, an attorney representing the unnamed woman who accused Lizza of misconduct, disputed that characterization. … Lizza also is an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University, where he taught this past fall. A university spokesperson said that classes had already concluded for the fall semester and that Lizza was not previously scheduled to teach in the spring.”

— “Comcast Says No Longer Reviewing Deal for 21st Century Fox Assets,” by WSJ’s Joe Flint: “Comcast Corp. said it is no longer pursuing an acquisition of several key media and entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox, leaving Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in position to finalize a deal with Walt Disney Co. The Philadelphia-based cable and programming giant had approached 21st Century Fox about assets that included its international properties, movie and television studios, and some U.S. cable networks, The Wall Street Journal had previously reported, citing people familiar with the matter.”

— Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter-Poza is joining Daily Kos as its first-ever judicial affairs editor. She previously was a fellow at the Center for American Progress and is currently a contributor to the Pacific Standard.

SPOTTED: on the 2 p.m. Acela from New York Penn Station to D.C.: Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) … Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) waiting to catch a flight on Monday to Phoenix from DCA, where he “stopped to have a word with former Rep. Sue Myrick [R-N.C.] on the concourse,” per our tipster. … Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) in first class on the 3:17 p.m. Delta flight from Atlanta to DCA. Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) and Tom Graves (R-Ga.) were in coach.

HOLIDAY PARTY CIRCUIT — SPOTTED at AEI’s annual holiday party last night: Arthur Brooks, Danielle Pletka, Michael Barone, Tim Carney, Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Teller, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Andrew Bremberg, Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), Scott Parkinson, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Carl Cannon, Mona Charen, Daniel Halper, Julia Ioffe, Greg Ip, Chris Isham, Eliana Johnson, Matt Lewis, Shawn McCoy, John Parkinson, Abby Phillip, Josh and Ali Rogin, Phil Rucker, Meridith McGraw, Margy Slattery, Byron York, Mike Stone, Elias Groll, Halley Toosi, Mallory Shelbourne, Ryan Nabil, Maddy Weast, Steve Guest, Jenna Lifhits, Marcus Weisgerber and Oriana Pawlyk.

— HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP STEVE SCALISE (R-La.) held a Cajun Christmas party in Eastern Market last night. Pool report: “Guests dined on traditional Cajun cuisine as the Capitol Hillbillies played. Scalise joined them to play his washboard, known as the ‘Zydeco Lightning.’” Pic

SPOTTED: Speaker Paul Ryan, Brett Horton, Chris Bond, Lauren Fine, Kelley Hudak, Bill Hughes, Matt Bravo, Ben Napier, Bart Reising, Drew Ferguson, Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), John Faso (R-N.Y.), Scott Taylor (R-Va.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Will Hurd (R-Texas), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), and members of Scalise’s medical team, including Dr. Jack Sava and Dr. Rob Golden.

— Pool report: German “Ambassador Peter Wittig, Huberta von Voss-Wittig, and Liz Mohn … hosted the fourth annual Neue Stimmen concert Monday evening at the Ambassador’s Residence. Four soloists from the Neue Stimmen competition performed pieces from Faust and The Barber of Seville, among others, along with a medley of Christmas standards.”

SPOTTED: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Samuel Alito and Martha-Ann Alito, national security adviser HR McMaster and Kathleen McMaster, DNI Dan Coats and Marsha Coats, Jane Harman, Barbara Allbritton, Alexandra de Borchgrave, Calvin Cafritz and Jane Cafritz, Amb. Rafat Mahmood and Shaista Mahmood, Sally Quinn, David Ignatius, Ben Chang, John Arundel, Sandra Pandit, Lee Merritt and Julie Folger, Annie Totah, John and JoAnn Mason, Karl Matthias Klause.

TRANSITION — KELLEY MCCORMICK has been hired as SVP of corporate communications at Under Armour, where she will start on Jan 8. She most recently has been a managing director at SKDKnickerbocker.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Lanny Davis, co-founder and partner of Trident DMG and co-founder and partner of Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC, is 72. How he got his start in politics: “In the Vietnam War era in the mid-1960s, I realized that politics meant life or death unless America elected someone to get America out of Vietnam. So I knocked on doors for Sen. Gene McCarthy in the 1968 New Hampshire primary – and haven’t missed knocking on doors in a Democratic New Hampshire presidential primary since then.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: Jesse Ferguson is 37 … David Pasch, HHS digital director and Mets fanatic, is 29 (hat tips: Charmaine Yoest and Brian Jack) … Allan Karl (h/t little bro Jonathan) … Maggie Rodriguez … Broderick Johnson, partner at Bryan Cave and Obama alum (h/t Jon Haber) … Jeff Goldstein, MBA/MPA concurrent degree candidate at Dartmouth Tuck and Harvard Kennedy School (h/t Katie Glueck) … Politico’s Taylor Miller Thomas … Andrew Platt, Maryland State Delegate … Katy Bachman … ABC News’ Becky Perlow … Nora Boustany … Peter Fenn … former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is 66 … former Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.) is 68 … AP science writer Seth Borenstein … Bret Wincup, director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise … Jeff Burton, founder of Burton Strategy Group and Cantor/NRCC alum, is 43 … Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) is 56 … Liz Brim … Alexander Levine …

… Sarah Horowitz, senior media strategist at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications … Jenna Kruse, VP of research at EMILY’s List … BBC’s Reeta Chakrabarti … Politico Europe’s Esther King … Nick Pearson of Google (h/t Riva Sciuto) … David Mays … Bush WH alum Rebecca Neale, now at the Paulson Institute … Jamie Brown Hantman … Danny Russel, diplomat in residence and senior fellow at Asia Society Policy Institute … Dwight Fettig … Jen Richer … Bob Wood … Ed Espinoza … Caroline Whitehouse, senior account executive at Edelman … Carolyn Castore … Dawn Laguens … Tina Henry … Tanner Hishta … Bush 43 alum Angela Hernandez … Kelly O’Brien … Maren Hesla … Peter Bock …Diane Welsh … David Sandretti, Obama USDA alum … Dan Schooff … Dawn Laguens … Madeline Sasse … Tony Winnicker (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: UAE airlines have received or have on order more than 800 Boeing aircraft. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s and has 40 Boeing 787-10s currently on order. Flydubai operates an all-Boeing fleet of planes and has a total of 361 Boeing 737s on order. Etihad operates 24 Boeing 777s with 25 more on order, and has an additional $8.7 billion order for Boeing 787-10s. UAE airlines now serve 11 US gateway cities from Dubai and Abu Dhabi with more than 250 weekly nonstop flights. ******

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The write stuff: Life lessons from author James Patterson

2017 12 12T085316Z 1 LYNXMPEDBB0GG RTROPTP 0 MONEY LIFELESSONS JAMESPATTERSON 1 150x150 - The write stuff: Life lessons from author James Patterson

FILE PHOTO: Author James Patterson poses at the CBS Studios rooftop summer soiree in West Hollywood
FILE PHOTO: Author James Patterson poses at the CBS Studios rooftop summer soiree in West Hollywood, California, U.S. on May 18, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

December 12, 2017

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – (The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Most writers dream of publishing a book in their lifetime, and maybe even selling a few copies. Then there is James Patterson, who has sold over 300 million of them.

The author of such runaway hits as the “Alex Cross” and “Women’s Murder Club” series raked in an estimated $95 million in 2016, according to Forbes, placing him among the highest-paid writers on the planet.

For the latest in Reuters’ “Life Lessons” series, we talked to Patterson about what he has learned from the unbelievable plot of his own life.

Q: Who was your biggest influence as a kid?

A: Probably my grandmother. She was very bright, very tough, and very protective of me. She felt I could do anything I wanted to do, other than play in the NBA. There was absolutely no doubt in her mind.

Q: Which books shaped your thinking early on?

A: When I got a job at a psychiatric hospital, I used to read a whole lot at night. The books that got me going were “Mrs. Bridge” and “Mr. Bridge” by Evan Connell, and “Steps” by Jerzy Kosinski: Very concise and witty, with tight storytelling. Another book that opened my mind up was “Tristram Shandy” by Laurence Sterne. It showed me that anything is possible.

Q: At what point did you realize you could actually make a living at writing?

A: It was when I won an award for best first mystery novel. I was sitting there so nervous, like I was at the Academy Awards. I remember when I got up after the announcement, I said, ‘I guess I’m a writer now.’

Q: Once serious money started coming in, how did you handle that?

A: I have always been pretty practical and frugal. I’ve been poor. I’ve been middle class. And I’ve been rich. On balance, I prefer being rich. But I’m happy I went through all those stages. If you have never been poor, you don’t really understand it in a way that people who lived it can understand it. That’s a huge life lesson.

I grew up in a small town in upstate New York, and that really was its own world. It was a little bit like the book “Hillbilly Elegy”. There must have been some people who got out of there, but I wasn’t aware of any.

Q: What kind of investor would you say you are?

A: I am fairly conservative in my portfolio. We have some real estate here in Florida and a house in New York state. We have some in hedge funds and some in conservative bonds. But there is no real reason to take any big risks.

Q: Where do you put your philanthropic dollars?

A: We have a big foundation and give away between $15-$20 million away every year. A lot of the projects have to do with reading. We award a lot of scholarships to teachers, 450 of them to 26 different universities.

We have also helped with school libraries, and now we are focusing on classroom libraries, with $1.75 million in grants. When we put out the word, we had 82,000 requests for help.

Q: Do you have any role models?

A: I look up to a lot of great writers, like James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Philip Roth. Also authors of thrillers like Michael Connelly and Nelson DeMille. I particularly love it when there is somebody who handles fame really well – like LeBron James. I also think Oprah has done a terrific job of handling her popularity and money and success. I find her to be pretty heroic.

Q: What life lessons do you try to pass along to your own son Jack, who is 19?

A: To be down to earth and not be impressed that his family has done well. We work on that a lot. I encourage people to understand who you are, and get comfortable with it.

My kid worked at the Clinton Foundation last summer and got to talk to President Clinton for a while. Later the president told me, ‘He has a big heart.’

As a parent, that’s an amazing thing to hear.

(Editing by Lauren Young and Lisa Shumaker)

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U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecasts

2017 12 12T061159Z 1 LYNXMPEDBB09U RTROPTP 0 TRANSPORTATION BUSES ELECTRIC 1 150x150 - U.S. transit agencies cautious on electric buses despite bold forecasts

An electric bus sits under a charging station in Pomona
An electric bus sits under a charging station in Pomona, California U.S. November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

December 12, 2017

By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Communities across the United States are looking to replace their dirty diesel buses, ushering in what some analysts predict will be a boom in electric fleets.

But transit agencies doing the buying are moving cautiously, an analysis by Reuters shows. Out of more than 65,000 public buses plying U.S. roads today, just 300 are electric. Among the challenges: EVs are expensive, have limited range and are unproven on a mass scale.

A typical 40-foot electric bus costs around $750,000, compared with about $435,000 for a diesel bus. Cheaper fuel and maintenance expenses can lower the overall costs over the 12-year life of the vehicles. But those costs can widely depending on utility rates, terrain and weather.

The technology is still a gamble for many cities at a time when bus ridership is falling nationwide and officials are trying to keep a lid on fares, says Chris Stoddart, an executive at Canadian bus maker New Flyer Industries Inc. A top supplier of conventional buses to the U.S. market, the company has just a handful of pure battery electrics in service.

“People worry about being an early adopter. Remember 20 years ago someone paid $20,000 for a plasma TV and then 10 years later it was $900 at Best Buy,” said Stoddart, senior vice president of engineering and customer service for New Flyer. “People just don’t want a science project.”

Rival electric bus manufacturers expect dramatic growth; the most ambitious forecasts call for all bus purchases to be electric by 2030.

But even green-energy advocates are skeptical of such rosy predictions. CALSTART, a California-based nonprofit that promotes clean transportation, figures 50 percent to 60 percent of new buses will be zero emissions by 2030. Market research firm Navigant Research expects electric buses to make up 27 percent of new U.S. bus sales by 2027.


Transit agencies have found EV performance lags in extreme conditions. In environmentally friendly San Francisco, officials have resisted electrics over concerns about the city’s famously steep hills. “The technology isn’t quite there yet,” Erica Kato, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in a statement.

Weather is also a major challenge.

An electric bus tested last year near Phoenix wilted in the summer heat due to the strains of running the air conditioning. The vehicle never achieved more than 89.9 miles on a charge, less than two-thirds of its advertised range, according to a report by the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority.

In Massachusetts, two agencies running small numbers of electric buses – the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Springfield and Worcester’s Regional Transit Authority – say the vehicles weaken in extreme cold and snow. They have no plans to acquire additional EVs, officials at those agencies said.

Even places with successful pilots have downplayed expectations. Seattle’s King County Metro transit agency soon will be operating more than a dozen vehicles by three manufacturers, according to Pete Melin, director of zero emission fleet technologies. The agency likes what it has seen so far.

Still, Melin said, high electricity rates from the local utility at peak demand periods are a concern. And the lack of a uniform charging system among bus makers has complicated Seattle’s goal of running an all-electric fleet by 2034.

“We have caveats to becoming zero emissions,” Melin said in an interview.

Another worry is government funding. Federal money for bus purchases is about 25 percent lower than it was five years ago, according to Rob Healy, vice president of government affairs for the American Public Transportation Association.

An Obama-era program that sets aside $55 million a year in grants to help transit agencies purchase clean buses will expire in 2020 if not renewed by Congress.


In addition to New Flyer, the fledgling U.S. electric bus industry has two other major players: Chinese automaker BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc; and Silicon Valley startup Proterra Inc.

BYD and Proterra began selling electric buses into the U.S. market several years ago, and have 165 and 126 vehicles on the road today, respectively.

Both are ramping up U.S. manufacturing on expectations that EVs will account for nearly all new bus sales in a little over a decade. BYD has a plant in Lancaster, California, while Proterra has manufacturing facilities in City of Industry, California and Greenville, South Carolina.

Buffett paid $230 million for a 10 percent stake in BYD in 2008. Today the company has a market capitalization of $25 billion, thanks mainly to China’s aggressive move to electrify transportation. More than 15 percent of the 608,600 buses in China are pure electric, according to government data. Proterra investors include venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the venture capital arm of General Motors Co. Proterra, based in Burlingame, California, is planning an initial public offering, but would not give a timeline for the debut.

Chief Executive Ryan Popple said range is improving quickly. The company is currently shipping models with up to 350 miles of range, but new battery technology is expected to boost that by nearly 30 percent.

“We’re starting to outstrip the market requirement in terms of what city buses actually do,” Popple said. “It opens up new markets for us.”

Notably, Proterra’s growth should also lift the fortunes of U.S. wind blade maker TPI Composites Inc, which struck a deal to build up to 3,350 lightweight bus bodies for the EV bus maker over the next five years. Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov estimated the deal could account for 12 percent of Scottsdale, Arizona-based TPI’s revenue in 2019.

Winnipeg-based New Flyer, meanwhile, has won some big orders, including a deal to supply up to 100 electric buses to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Still, company executives view electrification as a gradual transformation.

“It’s going to be a slow, methodical rather than an absolute disruption type environment,” CEO Paul Soubry said on a conference call with analysts last month.


Despite the technology’s limitations, some U.S. transit agencies are hitting the accelerator on their electric conversions. IndyGo, which serves greater Indianapolis, has struck a deal with BYD to purchase 31 electric buses, with the option to add dozens more, in addition to the 21 already in its fleet, according to an IndyGo board of directors meeting report from July. Agency spokesman Bryan Luellen said the EVs have reduced fuel and maintenance costs by up to half compared to conventional buses.

Foothill Transit, in Southern California, has been operating Proterra buses since 2010. It now has 17 in its fleet, with 13 more scheduled to arrive before the end of the year, according to spokeswoman Felicia Friesema.

Still, both agencies acknowledged trade-offs due to the limited range of these vehicles. Foothill has mainly confined its electric buses to a short 16-mile route. The Indianapolis EVs run primarily during the morning and evening rush hours, not all day long like the diesel workhorses that remain the mainstay of the fleet.

Still, IndyGo’s Luellen figures the best is yet to come.

“With battery technology evolving rapidly we think it’s a big opportunity for us to maximize our budget and do more,” he said.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Sue Horton and Marla Dickerson)

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Final stretch in Alabama – POLITICO

politico 150x150 - Final stretch in Alabama - POLITICO

With Scott Bland and Daniel Strauss

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (

Story Continued Below

TWO MOORE DAYS — “How Trump came around to an accused child molester,” by POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “Mitch McConnell had publicly disavowed Roy Moore when the Senate majority leader received one of several phone calls from President Donald Trump. McConnell wanted Trump’s help to push Moore out of the Alabama Senate race after he’d been accused of harassing or molesting teenage girls. Instead, the president’s response left the straight-laced McConnell aghast. Trump, according to three sources briefed on the discussions, cast doubt on the claims leveled by Moore’s accusers. … Trump’s sentiment — he has also complained privately that the avalanche of charges taking down prominent men is spinning out of control — helps explain the president’s evolving attitude toward Moore over the past three weeks, when he has gone from uncharacteristic silence to a full-throated endorsement of the controversial candidate. The shift has benefited both men, helping the scandal-tarred Moore bounce back from what looked like a probable defeat to become a slight favorite in Tuesday’s special election — and offering the president a chance to claim credit if Moore ekes out a win.” Full story.

HUH — “Did Roy Moore spend the final weekend of the campaign in Philly?” by POLITICO’s Isenstadt and Gabriel Debenedetti: “In the last weekend of Alabama’s wild special Senate election, Doug Jones barnstormed the state with A-list Democrats in a bid to turn out black voters he desperately needs to win in the deep-red state. Republican Roy Moore disappeared. … Two Republicans briefed on Moore’s schedule before this weekend said he intended to spend Saturday in Philadelphia at the Army-Navy football game — a long-planned trip that the West Point grad had insisted he would still take this year despite the election.” Full story.

ICYMI — “Republicans for Jones wage lonely fight against Moore,” by POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss and Luis Sanchez: “A small group of Alabama Republicans have joined forces with Democrat Doug Jones’ campaign ahead of Tuesday’s special Senate election. But they are having trouble swaying many friends and family members to cross the aisle, too. …The Republicans for Jones include Gina Dearborn, an Alabama lobbyist and former Shelby staffer who has backed Jones on social media and is married to White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn. … Jones needs votes from at least 1 in 10 Republicans if he is to win, according to Alabama-based Democratic pollster Zac McCrary.” Full story.

— “Shelby: My state of Alabama ‘deserves better’ than Moore,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson. Full story.

— “Trump to cut robocall for Moore,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: “Donald Trump has agreed to record a robocall for Alabama Republican Roy Moore ahead of next week’s special election, the president’s most direct involvement in Alabama on behalf of the embattled candidate to date.” Full story.

MINNESOTA SCRAMBLE — “Minnesota governor’s top choice mulling ’18 run,” via The Associated Press: “Gov. Mark Dayton’s top pick to fill Sen. Al Franken’s Senate seat, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, is considering also running for the seat next year, as Dayton faces pressure from top Democrats in Washington to appoint more than a mere caretaker, according to two Democrats familiar with the discussions.” Full story.

— “Senate vacancy creates opportunity, complications galore,” via Capitol View’s Brian Bakst. Full story.

— Pawlenty says he’s considering run for Franken seat, via the Associated Press: “Franken’s resignation has forced him and others to think about how to improve the state and nation, he said. He spoke after addressing a local Chamber of Commerce event.” Full story.

IN TEXAS — “Growing list of Republicans aiming to oust Farenthold in 2018,” by the Houston Chronicle’s Jeremy Wallace: “The latest candidate to jump in the race is Bech Bruun, the former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board who is from Corpus Christ but lives in Austin. Bruun officially [qualified] for the 27th Congressional District primary on Friday morning. Earlier this week Republicans Jerry Hall, Eddie Gassman and Christopher K. Mapp all qualified for the primary as well. And a week earlier, former Victoria County Republican Party chairman Michael Cloud qualified for the March 6 primary.” Full story.

— ICYMI from NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers: “’I think the filing deadline hasn’t happened in Texas and Blake Farenthold has some thinking to do about whether he wants to run for reelection or not,’ Stivers told Business Insider, adding that the GOP needs to ‘push folks where there’s serious allegations or proven allegations aside.’ ‘We have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior and we’ve made that clear,’ Stivers said.” Full story.

Days until the 2018 election: 330.

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at,,, and

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @danielstrauss4 and @maggieseverns.

BETWEEN THE LINES — Supreme Court adds another redistricting case for this term: Maryland’s Benisek v. Lamone, which challenges Maryland’s Democrat-drawn 7-1 congressional map as unconstitutional because it infringes on Republican voters’ First Amendment rights to political speech and association. See the SCOTUS order here.

— “Inside the gerrymandering data top Pa. Republicans fought to keep private,” by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Lai: “Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati had fought to keep private a trove of documents as they prepared for the trial, which began Monday in Philadelphia. They also sought to block the documents in a separate, state gerrymandering trial that begins next week in Harrisburg. Among them are maps that contain detailed data on partisanship across the state, which experts said appear to confirm widespread suspicion that Republicans had intentionally drawn the map to favor their party. One map’s database contains details for each of the more than 9,000 voting districts in the state, including the races and ethnicities of voters and results from state and national elections from 2004 through 2010. Also included are metrics that appear to rate each voting district’s level of partisanship.” Full story.

2020 WATCH — “DNC ‘unity’ panel recommends huge cut in superdelegates,” by POLITICO’s Kevin Robillard: “A commission set up to help reform the Democratic presidential nominating process has voted to restrict the number of superdelegates as part of a slew of changes. The Democratic Party’s Unity Reform Commission is recommending cutting the number of superdelegates by about 400, equal to a 60 percent reduction. Many of the remaining superdelegates would see their vote tied to the results in their state. The commission is also suggesting that absentee voting be required as an option for presidential caucus participants. It is calling for automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration. And it wants to mandate public reporting of raw vote totals from caucus states.” Full story.

HOUSE INTERNAL — “Democrat commissions poll pointing to tough reelection for Ryan,” by POLITICO’s Edward-Isaac Dovere: Paul Ryan might be facing a tough reelection race back home next year — provided anyone finds out who his biggest Democratic challenger is. A new internal poll from Randy Bryce, the ironworker who blasted onto the national political scene in June with a viral video, claims he trails by just 6 points in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, 46 to 40. But the same poll from the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group shows that 79 percent of likely voters surveyed in late November don’t even know enough about Bryce to say they view him favorably or unfavorably.” Full story.

— “Most approve of job Reynolds is doing, but nearly half want another governor,” via The Des Moines Register: “Just more than half of Iowans approve of the job Gov. Kim Reynolds is doing, but nearly as many are ready for someone new to hold the governor’s office, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. … Yet just 35 percent say they would vote for Reynolds if the election were held today, and 49 percent say it’s time for someone new. Sixteen percent aren’t sure.” Full story.

POST-MORTEM — “After bruising losses, Virginia Republicans gather to find path out of wilderness ahead of 2018,” by The Washington Post’s Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella: “Virginia Republicans tried to make the best of a grim electoral landscape this weekend at their annual retreat, which marked Ed Gillespie’s first public appearance since his loss in the governor’s race seemed to drive the party further into the political wilderness. Gillespie’s contest became a symbol of a party struggling to bridge the gap between President Trump’s populism and the need to appeal to minorities and independent voters in a purple state. The same forces will be in play in the coming year, when the GOP will try to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and has to defend seven congressional seats in the state.” Full story.

GETTING THE NOD — DFA endorses four California House challengers: Democracy for America announced it’s endorsing four Democratic House challengers in California: Bryan Caforio (CA-25), Laura Oatman (CA-48), Sam Jammal (CA-39), and Mike Levin (CA-49).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t think — President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility,” — California Gov. Jerry Brown on Trump, POLITICO reported.

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Steve Bannon Hits Back at Mitt, CNN, and the Forces Aligned Against Roy Moore

Bannon Moore Rally Joe RaedleGetty Images 150x150 - Steve Bannon Hits Back at Mitt, CNN, and the Forces Aligned Against Roy Moore

Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon cast Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election as a pivotal moment in the populist-nationalist movement, stressing that Judge Roy Moore’s victory would be a major blow to the forces trying to destroy President Donald Trump and his agenda.

“I thought we litigated that. Didn’t the American people already vote on that? Alabama’s the firebreak in all that. Judge Moore wins tomorrow, it’s a totally different deal; you understand that, right?” Bannon told the crowd at an election eve Moore rally in Midland City, Alabama, regarding Democrats’ effort to oust President Trump over the “Billy Bush Weekend” Access Hollywood recording.

Bannon then unloaded on the disparate people and institutions engaged in what he called the “politics of personal destruction” in an effort to destroy Judge Moore. “They are trying to send you a signal … that if you put up another guy, they’re gonna destroy him too. That’s why the men and women in this room, we have to have the backs of these people,” he said at the barn venue.

To start, Bannon mocked CNN over recent major corrections and overplayed reporting. He called the network “C.F.N. – Cable Fake News.”

“I’m here as a private citizen, Anderson,” Bannon said, breaking the fourth wall to address CNN anchor Anderson Cooper directly in the studio from which he was covering the rally. “I know it must hurt you for a guy from Breitbart to say that.”

The Republican establishment, a member of which was implicated this week as the possible source for the Washington Post article that unleashed the torrent of unconfirmed sexual allegations against Moore, was not spared from Bannon’s ire.

“One of these establishment guys, I think his name was Willard Mitt Romney,” Bannon said, the failed Republican presidential candidate’s name eliciting boos from the crowd.

Bannon has gotten personal with Romney over the last week after Mitt explicitly impugned Moore’s “honor and integrity” in a tweet. “Honor and integrity,” Bannon repeated several times, “About an individual who went to the United States Military Academy at West Point and served his country in Vietnam … and Mitt Romney, who avoided service, talks about the integrity and honor of Capt. Roy Moore.”

“What kind of country we living in? Things in the media praising Mitt Romney when he does this and he does that. That doesn’t wash. Does not wash,” Bannon added.

In contrast, Bannon presented Tuesday’s electorate as the determiner of the future of American politics. “Tomorrow they call the question. Sons and daughters of Alabama are gonna show the world where they stand for this nation,” he said. “This is a national election. It is the Trump miracle versus the nullification process.”

“In this country, it’s not our natural resources … it’s not even our constitution, our legal system … it’s not the capital and the wealth we built up. It’s the American people,” Bannon said, extolling Alabamians not to allow elites to “manage” America’s decline. “That’s the power that elected Donald Trump. That’s the power that’s gonna elect Roy Moore tomorrow. That’s the power they fear. And I’m telling you: properly harnessed, it’s the greatest power on this earth.”

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UK workers face renewed hit to spending power in 2018: Korn Ferry

2017 12 12T000737Z 1 LYNXMPEDBB003 RTROPTP 0 BRITAIN ECONOMY JOBS 1 150x150 - UK workers face renewed hit to spending power in 2018: Korn Ferry

FILE PHOTO -  Workers walk to work during the morning rush hour in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London
FILE PHOTO – Workers walk to work during the morning rush hour in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Britain, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/File Photo

December 12, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – Workers in Britain look set to suffer another hit to their spending power in 2018 while most of their peers in the world’s other big rich economies will have small gains, human resources firm Korn Ferry said on Tuesday.

A combination of high inflation, caused in large part by the 2016 Brexit vote, and weak wage growth means British workers are expected to see their salaries fall in real terms by 0.5 percent next year, according to a survey published by the firm.

The most recent official data has shown British average weekly earnings fell by an annual 0.4 percent in the three months to September when adjusted for inflation.

Globally, inflation-adjusted wages are expected to rise by 1.5 percent next year, Korn Ferry said, the weakest predicted increase in five years, underscoring the challenge for policymakers in many countries where unemployment is low but wage growth is weak.

Benjamin Frost, Korn Ferry’s global general manager, said the situation in Britain was aggravated by the jump in inflation which hit 3 percent in October and is expected to stay at that level when data for November is released on Tuesday.

“What stands out is that employers are not increasing their pay rises to account for that,” he said. “They have limited ability to charge their customers more and improvements in productivity are easier said than done in the short term.”

In the United States, workers were expected to see a real-terms salary increase of 1 percent in 2018, based on forecasts of wage increases of 3 percent and inflation of 2 percent.

Korn Ferry said the predicted salary increases were based on its database which contains information from 25,000 organizations across more than 110 countries. In Britain, 770 firms took part.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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POLITICO Playbook: D.C. works behind the scenes on taxes and government funding

20171211 donald trump paul ryan getty 1160 150x150 - POLITICO Playbook: D.C. works behind the scenes on taxes and government funding

NEW IN THE MIDDLE EAST — AP at 3:41 a.m.: “RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Saudi Arabia announces that movie theaters will open in the kingdom next year, for the first time in more than 35 years.” … at 4:57 a.m.:“MOSCOW (AP) – Tass says Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at a Russian air base in Syria.” … at 5:11 a.m.: “DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syrian TV: President Bashar Assad met with Vladimir Putin at Hmeimeem base in Syria this morning.”

Happy Monday. The action this week will be primarily behind the scenes. The House and Senate need to make serious progress on a bunch of fronts: they need to continue working out the differences in their tax bills, they need to figure out a deal to boost spending caps and they need to figure out how they’ll fund the government past Dec. 22. President Trump is slated to give a tax speech at the Treasury Department Wednesday, per Morning Money. HAPPENING TOMORROW — Election Day in Alabama.

Story Continued Below

— CASE IN POINT: “The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some,” by WSJ’s Rich Rubin: “Some high-income business owners could face marginal tax rates exceeding 100% under the Senate’s tax bill, far beyond the listed rates in the Republican plan. That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes. As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening.”

AND THIS… “Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes,” by WaPo’s Erica Werner: “Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan.

“Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate.”

ONE OF THE DEFINING QUESTIONS FOR 2018 — BLOOMBERG’S SAHIL KAPUR: “GOP’s Taxing Question: Will Middle-Class Folks Notice Their Cut?”: “A funny thing happened when Congress approved a tax cut for the middle class eight years ago: Most Americans didn’t notice.

“The 2009 economic-stimulus bill contained a one-year tax break worth $800 for married couples in 95 percent of working households — a little over $15 a week. A February 2010 poll found that just 12 percent said their taxes had been reduced. More than half, 53 percent, said they saw no change. A remarkable 24 percent thought their taxes had increased.

“‘Virtually nobody believed they got a tax cut,’ said Jared Bernstein, an economist who worked in former President Barack Obama’s White House. He called it a source of frustration at the time. That 2009 tax cut contains warning signs for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Their tax plans would deliver about the same level of initial relief to households with incomes between $40,000 and $100,000 — roughly $800 on average — according to data from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. If those numbers hold, and if history’s any guide, Trump’s working-class voters may not feel the tax cut he has repeatedly promised them.”

SPOTTED: Jared and Ivanka ice skating with their children at Canal Park in Navy Yard on Sunday.

JUST POSTED — NBC’S CAROL LEE and JULIA AINSLEY: “18 crucial days: What did the president know and when did he know it?”: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to piece together what transpired inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The questions about what happened between Jan. 26 and Flynn’s firing on Feb. 13 appear to relate to possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, say two people familiar with Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.

“Multiple sources say that during interviews, Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses, including White House Counsel Don McGahn and others who have worked in the West Wing, to go through each day that Flynn remained as national security adviser and describe in detail what they knew was happening inside the White House as it related to Flynn.”

ALARM BELLS — Republicans are growing increasingly worried about the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. Former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy resigned after it became public that he suggested his mistress have an abortion. D.C. Republicans nominated Rick Saccone — a state lawmaker — to run, and Democrats have tapped Conor Lamb — a 34-year-old former federal prosecutor who was in the Marines. The district is solidly Republican, but Republicans watching the race take shape are worried they’ll have to spend money to boost Saccone. The election is in March, and it will certainly be seen as a harbinger for the midterms.

ALSO COMING UP — Vice President Mike Pence is going to the Middle East later this month. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he won’t meet with Pence. Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, said the decision is “unfortunate.” The full statement

— “Palestinian stabs Israeli in Jerusalem; anti-Trump protest flares in Beirut,” by Reuters’ Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem: “A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s main bus station on Sunday, police said, and violence flared near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut over U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday have largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing U.S. policy on Jerusalem — a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.”

DARREN SAMUELSOHN — “As Russia probes progress, one name is missing: Bannon’s”: “As special Russia counsel Robert Mueller wraps up interviews with senior current and former White House staff, one name has been conspicuously absent from public chatter surrounding the probe: Steve Bannon. President Donald Trump’s former White House chief strategist and campaign chief executive played critical roles in episodes that have become central to Mueller’s probe as well as to multiple Hill investigations. …

“Yet Bannon hasn’t faced anywhere near the degree of public scrutiny in connection to the probe as others in Trump’s inner circle, including son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner – who was recently interviewed by Mueller’s team – or Donald Trump Jr., who was interviewed on Capitol Hill last week about his own Russian connections. People close to Bannon, who left the White House in August and returned to his former perch as head of Breitbart News, say he’s told them he doesn’t have a lawyer and isn’t worried about potential exposure. But others say it’s inevitable he’ll be called in as a witness in the ongoing investigations. He has not been publicly accused of any wrongdoing or named as a target of the investigations.”

— “Manafort Pal Still Profiting From Mostly Silent Pro-Trump Group,” by Bloomberg’s John McCormick and Bill Allison: “One of the biggest super political action committees backing Donald Trump’s campaign has done little since the election other than pay a sizable salary to its top official, a longtime friend and business associate of the president’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Laurance Gay, the godfather to one of Manafort’s daughters, has been paid about $830,000 since the creation of Rebuilding American Now in June 2016. That’s far more than the bosses of other pro-Trump groups, including those that have actively promoted the president’s agenda.”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: UAE airlines bought $42 billion in US-made commercial aircraft at the 2017 Dubai Airshow. That’s economic growth and jobs for Americans. The UAE-US commercial aviation relationship is a win-win deal. ******

— NOT JUST GETTING COFFEE: “For Trump adviser at center of Russia probe, a rapid rise and dramatic fall in his ancestral land,” by WaPo’s Griff Witte in Athens: “This October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his extensive efforts to connect Trump’s presidential campaign with senior Russian officials. Trump has since dismissed Papadopoulos as a ‘low level volunteer.’ But in his ancestral homeland, the man whom Trump had named in March 2016 as one of five top foreign policy advisers and an ‘excellent guy’ was regarded as a critical interlocutor, first to the Trump campaign and later to the incoming Trump White House.

“He may have carried on like ‘a second-rate actor in a political thriller,’ as one acquaintance described his manner. But when he bragged that he had helped Trump win the presidency, many here believed it. Before his spectacular fall, he was lavishly wined and dined by local business kingpins, celebrated in official tweets and rewarded with the perks — judge in an island beauty contest — of a favorite Greek son.

“He also received access to officials at the highest levels of the Greek government, many of whom shared links to Russia and sympathies that would be unusual in other Western capitals. Kammenos, in particular, stood out both for his pro-Russian views and his determination to forge a bond with the young Trump adviser.”

THE LATEST FROM ALABAMA — “Did Roy Moore spend the final weekend of the campaign in Philly?” by Alex Isenstadt and Gabe Debenedetti in Mobile, Alabama: “In the last weekend of Alabama’s wild special Senate election, Doug Jones barnstormed the state with A-list Democrats in a bid to turn out black voters he desperately needs to win in the deep-red state. Republican Roy Moore disappeared. Confronting accusations that he harassed or molested teenage girls, Moore hasn’t held a public event since Tuesday, a decision that has perplexed some Republicans given the closeness of the race.

“Two Republicans briefed on Moore’s schedule before this weekend said he intended to spend Saturday in Philadelphia at the Army-Navy football game — a long-planned trip that the West Point grad had insisted he would still take this year despite the election. One of those Republicans, who expressed concern about Moore’s absence, said that the planned trip was discussed with Moore’s campaign within the last few weeks and the candidate determined to go — case closed.

“Moore’s campaign declined repeated requests to discuss his whereabouts and refused to say whether he had in fact gone to Philadelphia. His absence has baffled local and out of town reporters, some of whom staked out Moore’s church on Sunday morning only to be informed that he wouldn’t be attending.”

— @mollycathwalsh, whose Twitter bio reads: “The University of Alabama // The Tuscaloosa News & Tide Sports Intern”: “I met Roy Moore a few months ago for an interview, he grabbed my hand & pulled me in & said ‘aren’t you a pretty little thing’ – I was 20.”

— AL.COM (large newspaper chain) editorial: “Our view: Conservatives should consider Senator Shelby’s example”: “In the past few weeks, we’ve heard story after story of conservative Alabamians frustrated and confused about their choice, worried about how to do the right thing. That worry isn’t misplaced – it is a choice that matters. We urge you not to be fooled into believing this is a matter of ‘liberal’ vs. ‘conservative.’ If you care about the future of this state, this election is for you. If you are (or love) a woman, this election is for you. If you are looking for a job, if you run a business, if you worry about the future of your children, this election is for you. …

“Moore might dismiss Shelby as part of the ‘Washington establishment’ …. But 64 percent of Alabama voters reelected Shelby a year ago. He has been Alabama’s senator since 1986. He has served the state with dignity and he has never embarrassed us. His judgment of Moore is convincing. For a state’s senior senator to not support his party’s nominee for the other seat is almost unheard of. Historians could find just one example: from 1990, when Louisiana’s Republican nominee was David Duke, a former KKK leader. Alabamians should think hard about how effective Moore can be as junior senator, with such a fissure between him and Shelby, let alone other Republicans.”

THE BANNON/MOORE NEXUS — JOSH GREEN in Bloomberg, “How Steve Bannon Rescued Roy Moore’s Campaign Against All Odds”: “‘He’s the counter to the ‘fake news’ — he’s been a stalwart,’ says Roy Moore. ‘It’s helped us a lot. He’s the master strategist.’ … Bannon was most alarmed by [Sean] Hannity’s ultimatum to Moore and moved to intervene, according to three people familiar with his actions. Along with Breitbart’s Washington editor, Matthew Boyle, he besieged the Fox News host with phone calls and texts. Bannon … asked the Fox host not to call on Moore to withdraw and instead to let Alabama voters decide, said people familiar with Bannon’s activities. One of the people said Hannity was skeptical, but willing to listen. The person said Hannity texted Boyle, ‘You pull this off it’s a f—ing miracle.’”

SUCCESS — @KFILE: “I was curious about the WaPo anecdote about @GOPChairwoman dropping her middle name at Trump’s request. Check out her Twitter name in December vs. May. ‘Romney’ was dropped.” With screenshots

TRUMP’S MONDAY — The president is having lunch with VP Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. He will participate in the presentation of the Friends of Zion award. He will also meet with House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster before signing a space policy directive. Trump will also participate in the swearing in ceremony for Jamie McCourt to be the next Ambassador to France and Monaco.

FIRST LOOK — The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics is announcing six fellows for the winter quarter: McKay Coppins, author and staff writer at The Atlantic … Shomik Dutta and Betsy Hoover, the co-founders of Higher Ground Labs … Kirsten Lodal, CEO and co-founder of anti-poverty group LIFT … Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core … Jay Roach, director and producer of the films “All The Way,” “Game Change,” and “Recount.”

SUSAN GLASSER: “Ex-Spy Chief: Russia’s Election Hacking Was An ‘Intelligence Failure’”: “The politics of spying in America has never been more intense. President Trump has taken to publicly bashing his intelligence agencies and continues, a full year later, to question their conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf. For their part, an array of career spooks have come out of the shadows where they spent their careers to challenge the commander-in-chief in once unthinkably public terms.

“Michael Morell is one of the career types who’s broken with decades of practice to confront Trump. A veteran of nearly three decades in the CIA, Morell rose from within the ranks to become the agency’s longtime deputy director, twice serving as its acting leader before retiring during President Barack Obama’s second term. In the summer of 2016, he broke with tradition to endorse Hillary Clinton over Trump, and he has continued to sound the alarm ever since.

“But in a revealingly self-critical and at times surprising interview for this week’s Global POLITICO, Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully ‘think through’ the negative backlash generated by their going political. ‘There was a significant downside,’ Morell said in the interview.” to the full podcast

WHAT TRUMP DOESN’T MUCH CARE ABOUT — NYT: “Mohammad Javad Zarif: Europe Must Work With Iran”

NEW IN FOGGY BOTTOM — “White House Names Trump Loyalist to Iran Policy Job at State Department: The Trump administration’s pick for the Iran post will likely back a more aggressive stance,” by Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer and Dan de Luce: “Andrew L. Peek, a former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and member of the president’s State Department transition team, will become the new deputy assistant secretary of state covering Iran and Iraq, according to three State Department officials familiar with the matter.

“Peek, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, has no prior diplomatic experience and has not earned a reputation as an established expert on Iran or Iraq but has years of experience in military intelligence and in the Senate, where he served Republican senators on foreign-policy issues.”

NEXT UP — “How Trump will target the federal safety net,” by Andrew Restuccia, Sarah Ferris and Helena Bottemiller Evich: “The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are hoping to make the most sweeping changes to federal safety net programs in a generation, using legislation and executive actions to target recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and housing benefits. The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. … The White House’s leading advocate for a welfare overhaul, Domestic Policy Council Deputy Director Paul Winfree, is slated to leave the administration on Friday, according to a person familiar with the move.”

— “U.S. Sets January Push for $1 Trillion Infrastructure Revamp,” by WSJ’s Ted Mann: “The White House is preparing to roll out a long-delayed infrastructure rebuilding plan in January, as President Donald Trump’s advisers bet that voters want a $1 trillion road-and-bridge-building plan—even though it is opposed by some lawmakers. Mr. Trump’s advisers are putting finishing touches on a plan to direct federal spending of $200 billion or more — funds it would propose to offset with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget — to leverage hundreds of billions more from local governments and private investors to pay for road, rail, water and utility upgrades.”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: Boeing is the preferred supplier for UAE commercial aviation requirements. Over the past 10 years, UAE customers have ordered $150 billion in Boeing planes, supporting 781,000 jobs in the US and injecting billions of dollars into the US economy. In 2016, the US had a $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE, America’s third largest trade surplus globally. ******

YEAR ONE — “Trump Takes Credit for Killing Hundreds of Regulations That Were Already Dead,” by Bloomberg’s Alan Levin and Jesse Hamilton: “As the Trump administration nears its one-year mark, White House officials are touting cuts to regulations as one of their top achievements. ‘In the history of our country, no president, during their entire term, has cut more regulations than we’ve cut,’ President Donald Trump said last month. … But government records—and in some cases the agencies carrying out Trump’s policies—tell a very different story. For one thing, only a handful of regulations have actually been taken off the books. …

“The White House says it has killed or stalled 860 pending regulations. It’s done this by withdrawing 469, listing another 109 as inactive and relegating 282 to ‘long term.’ A Bloomberg News review has found even those claims are exaggerated. Hundreds of the pending regulations had been effectively shelved before Trump took office. Others listed as withdrawn are actually still being developed by federal agencies. Still more were moot because the actions sought in a pending rule were already in effect.”

YIKES — “Microbes by the ton: Officials see weapons threat as North Korea gains biotech expertise,” by WaPo’s Joby Warrick: “North Korea is moving steadily to acquire the essential machinery that could potentially be used for an advanced bioweapons program, from factories that can produce microbes by the ton, to laboratories specializing in genetic modification, according to U.S. and Asian intelligence officials and weapons experts. Meanwhile, leader Kim Jong Un’s government also is dispatching its scientists abroad to seek advanced degrees in microbiology, while offering to sell biotechnology services to the developing world. The gains have alarmed U.S. analysts, who say North Korea … could quickly surge into industrial-scale production of biological pathogens if it chooses to do so.”

PLAYBOOK HOLIDAY PARTY GUIDE: Monday: AEI has its annual holiday reception at its HQ on Massachusetts Avenue. … Tuesday: MediaDC has its holiday party at Teddy and the Bully bar. … Google has its “Big Moments of 2017” party on the rooftop of the W Hotel … Musicians On Call, the Recording Industry Association of America and Spotify are hosting their holiday charity benefit featuring Fifth Harmony at the 9:30 Club. … UnitedHealth Group is hosting a holiday reception at its new “D.C. Innovation Center.” …

Wednesday: America Rising and Definers have their holiday party at AJAX. … Locust Street Group have their holiday party at the Showroom. … The Entertainment Software Association holds their holiday party at the Rock and Roll Hotel. … Thursday: The Senate Press Secretaries Association and National Confectioners Association have a “cocktails and candy canes” party at Acqua Al 2. … The National Association of Manufacturers have a party at their HQ.

HOLIDAY PARTY CIRCUIT — SPOTTED at Gloria Dittus’ annual holiday party last night at her house: David Leiter (wearing reindeer antlers), Laura Lovelace, Mary Kathryn and Michael Steel, Bill Miller, James Sonne, Christopher Gindlesperger, Carol Danko, Kenny Day, Madeleine O’Connor, Rebecca and Matt Haller, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Leslie Sarasin, Lisa Nelson, Heather Podesta, Jay Timmons, Stewart Verdery, Ken Cole, Jay Vroom, Joe Crowley, Amy Walter and Margaret Carlson.

Home Depot’s Kent Knutson and GE’s Karen Knutson hosted their annual Christmas party at their home Saturday night “complete with two Scottish bartenders in kilts pouring single malt scotch and the whole Knutson clan wearing matching red plaid.” SPOTTED: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and husband Verne Martell, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Heather Podesta and Steve Kessler, Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, Ziad Ojakli, Gloria Dittus, Paul Tetreault, Lois Romano, Josh Eastright, Jodi Bond, Mark Neuman, former Maryland AG Doug Gansler, Sara Fagen, Shannon Finley, Juleanna Glover, John Rogers, Jay Timmons, Earl Comstock, Nancy Dorn, Will Ris, HP Goldfield, Katy Cannon.

— SPOTTED at Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf’s annual holiday party this weekend: Tom Nides, Eric Fanning and Ben Masri-Cohen, Joe Solmonese, Adrienne Elrod, Betsy Barrett, Eric Schultz, Jeremy Peters, Jeff Marootian, Michael LaRosa, Stuart Spencer, Erin McPike, Doug Thornell, Joe Wall, Michael Sozan.

TRANSITIONS — Kris Perry will become president of the Save the Children Action Network. Mark Shriver will become CEO.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Alex Koppelman, senior editor for media at CNN

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: John Feehery, partner at EFB Advocacy, is 54. How he got his start in politics: “I started as an intern with House Minority Leader Bob Michel. Working for Bob and his team (Ray LaHood, Bill Pitts, Bill Gavin etc.) was the most formative political experience of my life. My internship shortly became a full-time job and I would eventually write speeches for Bob and for a group of members dubbed the Theme Team. He was a great leader and a wonderful human being and he quickly became a role model for me.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: former Secretary of State John Kerry is 74 … Max Baucus, former U.S. ambassador to China and senator from Montana, is 76 … Kara Swisher … Claudia Slacik … Politico’s Marianne LeVine … Joe Greeley, director of production at Advoc8 … Perry Rosen … Josh Brown, president at DP Strategies Group and partner at Dark Horse Strategy (hat tip: Jeremy Iloulian) … Washington Examiner’s Kelly Cohen … Benton Strong is 31 … Elizabeth Spiers … Gideon Resnick of The Daily Beast … Bruce Thomas … Rebecca Brocato … Jessica Seale, digital director for Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (h/t Becca Glover) … Emily Buchanan, executive director at SBA List … Seymour Topping is 96 … WaPo’s Elizabeth Dwoskin …

… Annabelle Timsit, editorial fellow at the Atlantic … Tyler Daniel, Rep. Steve Scalise’s political director … Allison Fleming … Edelman’s Kirstie Fleger … Gabe Amo … Phillip Escoriaza … Gordon Peterson … Tim McClellan … Erika Dimmler … Peter True, press secretary for Senate Energy Dems … Rita Moreno … J. Michael Allen … Julie Mason, host of SiriusXM’s “Press Pool” … Miyamoto Musashi … Josh Morton of Jericho Pix … Steve Gillon … Chris Stenrud … Max Schindler … Brian Reich is 4-0 … Devon Lucie … Mark Ashworth is 58 … Fran Boyd … Robert Wascher … Benjamin Tribbett is 38 … Bob Corn … Ashley Spillane … Pam Womack … Seth Johnson (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: UAE airlines have received or have on order more than 800 Boeing aircraft. Emirates is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777s and has 40 Boeing 787-10s currently on order. Flydubai operates an all-Boeing fleet of planes and has a total of 361 Boeing 737s on order. Etihad operates 24 Boeing 777s with 25 more on order, and has an additional $8.7 billion order for Boeing 787-10s. UAE airlines now serve 11 US gateway cities from Dubai and Abu Dhabi with more than 250 weekly nonstop flights. ******

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Ukrainian judge turns down request to place Saakashvili under house arrest

December 11, 2017

KIEV (Reuters) – A Ukrainian judge on Monday turned down the prosecutors’ request to place Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili under house arrest, paving the way for his release from detention.

“The prosecutors’ petition … is dismissed,” Judge Larysa Tsokol told the court.

Prosecutors accuse the 49-year-old of assisting a criminal organization, charges he says were trumped up to undermine his campaign to unseat Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams)

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