Early Wednesday, Fox News published an explosive new story alleging President Obama sought detailed briefings about the Clinton email investigation. The report is based on texts between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security on Tuesday. In a text sent on September 2, 2016, Page tells Strozok that "potus wants to know everything we're doing." Fox News claims this text "raises questions about Obama's personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation." It's simply not a plausible interpretation of the September 2, 2016 text exchange that Obama was seeking a briefing on the Clinton email investigation. FBI Director James Comey closed the Clinton email investigation on July 5, 2016. It was not reopened until October. The same trove of text messages released Tuesday reveals that the FBI did not even become aware of additional emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop until September 28, 2016. read more
Congressional leaders clinched a two-year deal to lift strict budget caps on defense and domestic spending, putting an end to a series of short-term spending bills and shutdown fights that have defined Washington the past few months. ... "This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House. No one thinks this bill is perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in announcing the agreement. "The budget deal doesn't have everything Democrats want. It doesn't have everything the Republicans want. But it has a great deal of what the American people want," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough."
Archaeologists from the University of West Florida say a storm in the Mobile, Alabama, area may have unearthed the Clotilda, the last known illegal United States slave ship. Historians like Sylviane Anna Diouf said the Clotilda arrived at Twelve Mile Island on the Mobile River in July of 1860, more than 50 years after the importaton of slaves was prohibted in the U.S. The ship was constructed five years prior by Mobile captain and shipbuilder William Foster, originally intended for trade within the U.S. Mobile businessman Timothy Meaher bought the ship and hired Foster to captain a voyage to a country in West Africa that is now known as Benin, with the intention of illegally transporting Africans into the Mobile Bay as part of a bet with friends that he could do it without being caught by federal officials. read more
The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn't talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, "We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated." read more
Emily Chang: I've spent the last eight years covering Silicon Valley, most recently as the anchor of Bloomberg Technology. During that time, gender disparities have always hung in the background. The exclusion of women from technology wasn't inevitable. The industry, it turns out, sabotaged itself and its own pipeline of female talent. In tech's earliest days, the programmers were women. One pioneer was Grace Hopper, a mathematics Ph.D. and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, who was one of the first people to program the Mark I, a giant Harvard University computer used by scientists to model the effects of atomic bombs. After the war, Hopper invented a now-ubiquitous programmer's tool known as a compiler, which creates a process for translating source code into a language machines can understand. Hopper was hardly an anomaly. read more
The United Arab Emirates, a model Persian Gulf petro-state where endless billions from crude exports feed a giant sovereign wealth fund, isn't the most obvious customer for Texan oil. Yet, in a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the U.A.E. bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. The end of a ban on U.S. exports in 2015 coupled with the explosive growth of shale production, has changed the flow of petroleum around the world. Shipments from U.S. ports have increased from a little more than 100,000 barrels a day in 2013 to 1.53 million in November, traveling as far as China and the U.K. read more
For decades, North Korea's government has sought to use modern technology to transform one of the most isolated, impoverished parts of the world. During the 1990s, Kim Jong Il, the father of current leader Kim Jong Un, touted programming as a way for the country to rebuild its economy after years of catastrophic famine. He established technology degrees at Pyongyang's universities and attended annual software-writing contests to put gold watches on the wrists of winners. Reports from Korea watchers suggest that, sometime in the back half of the decade, Kim Jong Il formed a cyber army designed to expand North Korea's hacking activities. Initially the unit managed only random incursions, on targets like government websites and banking networks, but when Kim died in 2011, his son expanded the program. Soon it was launching attacks more consistently and on more important targets, such as nuclear plants, defense networks, and financial institutions. read more
Charleston city prosecutors on Wednesday dropped charges of disorderly conduct and wearing a mask on a public street against Nicole Wells, stemming from a May 2017 incident. Charleston Police said Wells stepped in front of a carriage hauling 16 sightseers and growled while wearing a Tyrannosaurus rex costume. ... The carriage operator fell out of the carriage when the horses reportedly lurched backward out of fright. One of the carriage's wheels broke the driver's right foot. None of the passengers were hurt. Palmetto Carriage Works general manager Tommy Doyle says the company is considering a lawsuit against Wells. ... "I didn't hear (growling)," said Shelby Salvador, a Jacksonville tourist dining just feet from the incident.
David French: In the post -- World War II era, American forces have been committed time and again even in offensive military actions without even the slightest effort to obtain congressional authorization. The latest example occurred on April 6, 2017, when President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons against its own civilian citizens. Unless there is classified information we don't yet know, a strike of this nature is exactly the kind of military action that should require congressional approval. We were not at war with Syria. We were not acting in immediate self-defense of our nation. We were not fulfilling a Senate-ratified treaty obligation. Shrugging off the Constitution is a bipartisan practice. Who can forget President Obama's strikes against Libya? read more
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he supports a government shutdown if Democrats won't agree to tighten immigration laws, undercutting ongoing bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill. The comment, which came during a White House meeting on the violent MS-13 gang, was not well received in the room. Rep. Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican who represents a district with thousands of federal workers, confronted Trump about the remark and urged him to avoid another government shutdown. "If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown," Trump said of the nation's immigration laws. "We'll do a shutdown and it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of." read more
Democrats won an exurban St. Louis seat in the Missouri state House of Representatives on Tuesday, racking up another victory in a district carried easily by President Trump in the 2016 election. Voters in Jefferson County appeared to choose Mike Revis, a 27-year old Democrat, to fill a seat left vacant when the incumbent quit to run for county executive. With all ten precincts within the district reporting, Revis led Republican David Linton by 108 votes, or about three percentage points. If Revis's lead holds, it would mark a significant swing from 2016, when President Trump won the district by a 61 percent to 33 percent margin. Four years before that, Mitt Romney beat President Obama in the district, south and west of St. Louis, by a 55- to 43-percent margin.
The New York Post reported on Monday that PepsiCo is working on a new "lady-friendly" version of Doritos. The company's market research has apparently revealed that women prefer not to crunch loudly and lick Dorito dust off their fingers in public, and they generally decline to upend the near-empty bag of chips and dump the flavor crumbs into their mouths. They also like to be able to carry their snacks in their purses. In response, PepsiCo is developing a snack chip that will be less crunchy and messy to eat. read more
A contractor who was awarded a massive contract to provide millions of meals to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria drastically underdelivered, according to a New York Times investigation. Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and self-described government contractor who owns Tribute Contracting LLC, was awarded the $156 million contract by FEMA on Oct. 3 to provide 30 million self-heating meals to Puerto Rico, but only followed through on 50,000. Brown, the sole employee of her company, hired an 11-person wedding catering company and a Texas nonprofit that had shipped food to a Houston food bank during Hurricane Harvey to provide the meals.
The marbled crayfish looks much like any other freshwater crustacean. It has two claws, ten legs, and an attractive blue-brown marbled shell. Yet this six-inch creature, found in streams and lakes around the world, is far more sinister than you might expect. ... There was something very strange about these crayfish. They were all female, and they all laid hundreds of eggs without mating. These eggs, in turn, hatched into hundreds more females -- with each one growing up fully able to reproduce by herself. In 2003, scientists sequenced their DNA and confirmed what many owners already believed to be the case: Each baby crayfish was a clone of its mother, and they were filling Europe's fishtanks at alarming speed. read more
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, sharply criticized the President on the Senate floor Tuesday for his remarks he made where he called Democrats "treasonous." ... During a speech outside Cincinnati, Trump called Democrats who didn't applaud for him "treasonous." "They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, 'Treasonous.' I mean, yeah, I guess, why not," Trump said to laughter during a speech outside Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday. ... "None of this behavior should ever be regarded as normal," Flake continued on the Senate floor. "We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. We will get through this period." read more