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World News

    Kashmir's apple orchards, a backbone of the economy that supports nearly half the people living there, are deserted, crops rotting on the trees at a time when they should be bustling with harvesters. Losses are mounting as insurgent groups pressure pickers, traders and drivers to shun the industry to protest an Indian government crackdown. In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict crackdown. More than two months later, the region remains under a communications blockade. Apple growers were expecting a bumper crop this year. Now, they say, losses are in the millions of dollars and the business might suffer its worst year since the beginning of the insurgency that has resulted in almost 70,000 deaths.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his 27 counterparts from across the European Union are converging on Brussels for a summit they hope will finally lay to rest the acrimony and frustration of a three-year divorce fight. Yet high anxiety still reigned on Thursday morning with the last outstanding issues of the divorce papers still unclear and Johnson uncertain whether his allies at home will back the compromises he needs to make a deal. Technical negotiators again went into the night Wednesday to finetune customs and VAT regulations that will have to regulate trade in goods between the Northern Ireland and Ireland, where the UK and the EU share their only land border. The summit starts midafternoon and is slated to end some 24 hours later.
  • Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has again been forced from the legislative chamber because of protests by opposition members following a bloody attack on a leader of the nearly 5-month-old protest movement. Pro-democracy lawmakers shouted and waved placards depicting Lam with bloodied hands, prompting their removal by guards and the suspension of proceedings Thursday. A day earlier, Lam was forced to abandon an annual policy address in the chamber, later delivering it by television. Disruption in the chamber and the attack Wednesday night on Jimmy Sham by assailants wielding hammers and knives marked the latest dramatic turn in the unrest that has rocked the city since June. Protesters and police have both deployed levels of violence unseen since the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting towns devasted by the deadly typhoon to meet residents to assess damage and their needs. Rescue and relief efforts for stranded or missing people in flooded mountain villages continued Thursday, as the death toll climbed. NHK television counted 77 killed, while the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 65 were pronounced dead. Reports say Abe's government, in an attempt to focus on disaster response, is considering postponing a royal parade to celebrate Emperor Naruhito's enthronement on Tuesday. Typhoon Hagibis hit northern and central Japan last weekend with historic rainfall that caused rivers to overflow and left thousands of homes flooded, damaged or without power. Fukushima prefecture, struck in the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, was among the hardest-hit by the typhoon.
  • A former top State Department aide testified in the impeachment inquiry that the Trump administration's politicization of foreign policy contributed to his resignation, while the Senate GOP leader briefed colleagues on a possible Christmas impeachment trial. The day's events, interrupted by an explosive meeting at the White House, churned as longtime State Department officials continued speaking out under subpoena — some revealing striking new details — about the actions President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, took toward Ukraine that have sparked the House investigation. On Wednesday, Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's de facto chief of staff, told investigators behind closed doors that he could no longer look the other way amid the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine, which were among the reasons he ended his 37-year career last week, according to multiple people familiar with the testimony, who, like others who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, were not authorized to discuss it. 'I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,' McKinley testified, according to a former colleague familiar with his remarks. The impeachment inquiry revolves around a whistleblower's complaint that Trump was pushing Ukraine's leader into opening an investigation of a company connected to the son of Trump's potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden. It is illegal to solicit or receive foreign help in a U.S. election. Among McKinley's concerns was the administration's failure to support Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted in March on orders from Trump. McKinley, who as a Latin America expert was not specifically involved in Ukraine, was also frustrated that there had been no response to an August inspector general's report that found significant evidence of leadership and management problems, including allegations from career employees that Assistant Secretary of State Kevin Moley and his former senior adviser Marie Stull retaliated or tried to retaliate against them as holdovers from the Obama administration. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters outside the closed-door hearing that McKinley was complimentary about Pompeo's role but did raise other issues. 'I think most of this is a concern by a colleague for an ambassador that he held in high regard,' Meadows said, declining to provide more details of the closed session. Republicans are crying foul over the process of the impeachment inquiry, but as House Democrats press on with the investigation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed Republicans about the possible trial ahead. McConnell warned of a possible House impeachment vote by Thanksgiving that would force a trial in the Senate, likely by Christmas. He used slides and history lessons during a private Senate GOP lunch in the Capitol to talk about the process, according to a person familiar with the meeting. At the White House, congressional leaders abruptly ended an explosive meeting with the president on the situation in Syria, when Trump called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a 'third-grade politician,' according to Democrats. Pelosi said later the president was having a 'meltdown.' Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he knows his House colleagues didn't run for office to conduct an impeachment investigation, but he said, 'The facts that are already in the public domain are so deeply troubling and must be taken very seriously.' Another key figure in the impeachment investigation, special envoy Kurt Volker, returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to review the transcript of his Oct. 3 testimony to investigators, according to a person familiar with his appearance. Volker provided text messages to lawmakers that revealed an effort at the State Department to push Ukraine's leader into opening an investigation of the gas company Burisma connected to Biden's son, Hunter, in return for a visit with Trump. That effort soon escalated into what one diplomat feared was a quid pro quo for U.S. military aid. Trump has denied that, saying assistance to Ukraine was delayed to pressure the country into addressing corruption. Another ambassador involved in those text message exchanges, Gordon Sondland, has been asked to appear Thursday. The testimony so far from the witnesses, mainly officials from the State Department and other foreign policy posts, largely corroborates the account of the government whistleblower whose complaint first sparked the impeachment inquiry, according to lawmakers attending the closed-door interviews. One witness said it appeared 'three amigos' tied to the White House —Sondland, Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — had taken over foreign policy. Another quoted national security adviser John Bolton as calling Giuliani a 'hand grenade' for his back-channel efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and Biden's son Hunter. Trump's July 25 phone call in which he pressed Ukraine's president , Volodymr Zelenskiy, to investigate Biden's family is at the center of the Democrats' inquiry. Pelosi, despite intensifying calls from Trump and Republicans to hold a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, showed no indication she would do so. She said Congress will continue its investigation as part of the Constitution's system of checks and balances of the executive branch. 'This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious. We're on a path that is taking us, a path to the truth,' Pelosi told reporters Tuesday. Trump calls the impeachment inquiry an 'illegitimate process' and has blocked officials from cooperating. At the same time, Republicans are bracing for a vote and trial. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise invited GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was an impeachment manager decades ago during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, to brief Republican lawmakers on the process ahead. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee overseeing the probe, has praised the State Department officials for stepping forward, under subpoena, to shed light on the matter. 'We have learned much of this thanks to the courageous testimony of the State Department officials who have been put in an impossible situation by the administration,' which is urging them not to comply with requests to testify to Congress, he said. 'They are doing their duty.' ___ Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Andrew Taylor, Matthew Daly, Colleen Long, Padmananda Rama, Eric Tucker and Alan Fram contributed to this report.
  • South Korea's national soccer team described their World Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang as a 'rough' match played under strange conditions that may be reported to FIFA. The historic match ended in a scoreless draw Tuesday at huge Kim Il Sung Stadium, which was empty of spectators. The match was also under a media blackout, and the South Koreans first spoke to journalists about the playing conditions upon their return to Seoul on Thursday. 'The opponents were very rough, and there were moments when very abusive language was exchanged,' Tottenham striker Son Heung-min said. 'It was hard to concentrate on the match because you were thinking about avoiding injury first ... It's an accomplishment that we returned from a game like that without injury,' Son said. 'Road matches can't always be good — our players and staff had a hard time,' he told reporters at Incheon International Airport. The team's general manager Choi Young-il said the South Korean soccer association, known as KFA, will discuss whether to submit a complaint to FIFA over what he described as North Korea's failure to properly accommodate the visiting team and decision to block media and spectators. North Korea kept out South Korean media and spectators and refused a live broadcast from the stadium. FIFA President Gianni Infantino also attended the match, and on Tuesday issued a statement saying he was 'disappointed to see there were no fans in the stands.' 'We were surprised by this and by several issues related to its live broadcast and problems with visas and access for foreign journalists,' Infantino said. North Korea did provide a DVD recording of the match to the South Koreans, but it was unclear as of Thursday afternoon whether South Korean networks would use it to broadcast the game on tape delay. The North had been expected to have a unique home advantage in the 50,000-capacity stadium devoid of South Korean fans, but South Korean players and soccer officials were surprised to realize there would be no home crowd support, either. Son said it was regrettable that South Korea, which has a stronger team on paper, couldn't return with three points, but admitted that their opponents' physical play got into the players' heads. Choi, a former defender who played for South Korea during the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, said the North Koreans played like they were 'waging a war,' violently swinging their elbows and hands and driving into their opponents knee first when competing for balls in air. 'I have never seen something like this in soccer before,' he said. When they weren't playing or training, South Korean players and staff spent the rest of their time in Pyongyang holed up at the Koryo Hotel, which appeared to have no other guests, Choi said. They had no outside contact, having left their cellphones at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing before entering the North. Choi said North Korean officials didn't inform the South Korean team that the match would be played in an empty stadium. 'We got there an hour and a half early and kept thinking that the gate will open and a crowd of 50,000 would pour in,' Choi said. 'But the gate never opened until the end.' The game was the first competitive meeting between the national men's teams in the North Korean capital, although the North hosted the South in a friendly in 1990. North Korea in recent months has severed virtually all cooperation with the South amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States, and repeatedly ignored the South's calls for discussions on media coverage issues and allowing South Korean cheer squads ahead of the game. South Korean government and soccer officials still aren't sure why the North cast the game into media darkness and blocked out spectators. Some experts say the North was expressing its political displeasure with the South by shutting out rival reporters and fans, but opted to compete in an empty stadium at home in an effort to level the playing field and avoid questions about fairness. Others say North Korea might have been concerned about the possibility of its national team losing to the South in front of a massive home crowd, which would have been a humiliating development for leader Kim Jong Un, who has a passion for sports. The awkward buildup to the game 'demonstrates the immense discontent North Korea has for (South Korea)' for its failure to break away from its U.S. ally and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by U.S.-led sanctions, said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies. During qualification for the 2010 World Cup, North Korea chose to host games against South Korea in Shanghai, refusing to hoist the South Korean flag and play the South Korean anthem on its soil. The fate of the game in Pyongyang was uncertain until last month when the governing body of Asian soccer informed the KFA that the North decided it would host the qualifier as scheduled. South Korea's two Group H matches against North Korea will be crucial in qualifying for the World Cup. The second match between the Koreas is scheduled for June 4 in South Korea. South Korea has dominated the past 17 inter-Korean matches with seven wins, one loss and nine draws. Group H also includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Authorities in Saudi Arabia say 35 pilgrims have been killed in a bus crash near the Muslim holy city of Mecca. The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday that four others were injured in the crash. The agency, quoting police in Saudi Arabia's Medina province, said the crash happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday on the road linking Mecca to the city of Medina. It said the chartered bus carried Asian and Arab nationals, without elaborating. Police were investigating the incident. Authorities gave no immediate cause for the crash. Every able-bodied Muslim is required to perform the hajj, or Islam's religious pilgrimage, to Mecca, home of cube-shaped Kabaa that Muslims pray to five times a day. Pilgrims also come during other times of the year as well.
  • The Trump administration is resuming targeted foreign assistance funding for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras after the three Central American countries recently signed immigration deals with Washington. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the funding will support programs aimed at mitigating illegal immigration. Pompeo notified Congress on Wednesday. President Donald Trump had ordered cuts of more than $615 million in assistance in March. In June, the State Department authorized the release of $432 million in projects and grants previously approved, but would not allow new funding until the three countries did more to reduce migrant flows.
  • The German government said Wednesday it has called an international meeting over Shell's refusal to dismantle old oil rigs containing thousands of tons of crude in the Northeast Atlantic. A spokesman for Germany's environment ministry told reporters in Berlin that the OSPAR Commission, which oversees a treaty on protecting the Northeast Atlantic, will hold an unprecedented special session in London to discuss the issue Friday. Stephan Gabriel Haufe said the four Shell platforms in question — known as Brent Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta — contain about 11,000 metric tons (12,125 tons) of crude oil residue. 'Germany considers it absolutely unacceptable that this amount of crude oil should remain in these structures,' Haufe said. He said Germany was concerned about a repeat of the Brent Spar incident in 1995, when Shell's plans to dispose of a floating oil storage unit at sea sparked strong environmental protests and even violence. Shell rejected the German government's concerns, saying it had commissioned independent scientists to examine the decommissioning of the platforms in the Brent oil field and the company had held extensive consultations with experts and non-governmental organizations. 'We are confident that our plans are safe, environmentally sound, technically achievable, and socially responsible,' Shell said in a statement. The meeting in London will be attended by European countries adjacent to the Northeast Atlantic and industry representatives. Germany says it has received the support of Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg and the European Union on the issue. The dispute comes as Britain, where Shell has a major corporate presence, is in the process of withdrawing from the EU. Britain said earlier this year that it plans to grant Shell an exemption from the usual requirements to fully remove oil platforms when they are decomissioned. Three of the rigs in question, built in the 1970s, are massive concrete structures as heavy as skyscrapers, making them significantly harder to dispose of than modern floating facilities. The fourth is made of steel. Shell said decommissioning the platforms, located 116 miles offshore north-east of Scotland, would be a 'complex, major engineering project' because of their size, age, design and the harsh environment of the North Sea. The company said research it commissioned suggests the lower parts of the platforms — known as legs — can be left at sea where they would slowly degrade over hundreds of years without any measurable impact on the environment. Shell said removing the sticky mix of water, sand, grit and oil from inside the platforms' legs would be 'technically difficult and present significant safety risks to people working on them, on balance with only a minor benefit in terms of reducing the legacy environmental impact.' It denied cost concerns were the deciding factor. But the German government cited a separate study, posted on its website, that raised concerns about Shell's plans. The dispute over the four platforms could have implications for a further 80 such structures, including 17 with large amounts of crude oil inside them, that oil companies currently plan to leave in the North Sea.
  • The weed is expensive, the selection is limited, the black market persists, and licensed stores are scarce. It's one year into Canada's experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened. While many residents remain proud of Canada for bucking prohibition, a lot still buy cannabis on the sly, because taxes and other issues mean high-quality bud can cost nearly twice what it did before legalization. Much of the drug's production and distribution over the years has been controlled by outlaw groups, including the Hells Angels, and replacing such criminality with safe, regulated sales is a key goal of legalization. Yet legal sales in the first year are expected to total just $1 billion, an amount dwarfed by an illegal market still estimated at $5 billion to $7 billion. 'One customer told me, 'I love you and I want to support you, but I can't buy all my cannabis here. It's too expensive,'' said Jeremy Jacob, co-owner of Village Bloomery, a Vancouver pot store that feels more like a museum gift shop, with its high ceilings, graceful lighting, tidy wooden shelves and locked white cabinets hiding packages of marijuana. 'The black-market producers are being well rewarded by legalization.' The nation has seen no sign of increases in impaired driving or underage use since it joined Uruguay as the only countries to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults — those over 19 in most Canadian provinces. Delegations from other countries, including Mexico, have visited Canada as they explore the possibility of rewriting their own marijuana laws. But officials promised legalization would be a process, not an event, and they weren't wrong. Kinks abound, from what many consider wasteful packaging requirements and uneven quality to the slow pace of licensing stores and growers across most of the country. Canada allowed provinces to shape their own laws within a federal framework, including setting the minimum age and deciding whether to distribute through state-run or private retail outlets. Some have done better than others. The result: There now are more than 560 licensed stores across Canada, but more than half are in Alberta, the fourth-largest province. Ontario and Quebec, which together make up two-thirds of Canada's population, have only about 45 shops between them. In Newfoundland, Canada's easternmost province, pot shop owner Tom Clarke said he's about to hit $1.5 million in sales but isn't making any money, thanks to rules that limit him to just an 8% commission. Online sales, designed to ensure far-flung communities can access the market even if they don't have a licensed shop, have been underwhelming, at least partly because consumers are reluctant to pay with a credit card if that transaction might come to the attention of U.S.-based banks or border guards, said Megan McCrae, board chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada industry group. Nowhere are the challenges of legalization more pronounced than British Columbia, which has had a flourishing cannabis culture since U.S. military draft-dodgers settled there during the Vietnam War era. They grew what became known as 'B.C. Bud,' high quality marijuana cherished by American consumers. In Vancouver, which has 2.2 million residents and is Canada's third-largest city, there was tacit approval of marijuana even before legalization. Though storefront distribution of medical marijuana never was allowed by law, about 100 dispensaries operated in the city before legalization arrived. Around the province, authorities have visited 165 illegal dispensaries in the past year and warned them to get licensed or shut down. Despite some raids, the government has been reluctant to close them all before more licensed shops open. Licensing has been glacial, though, thanks to a change in power in the provincial government and cities being slow to approve zoning and other requirements, partly because the province has no tax-revenue-sharing agreement with local jurisdictions. Regulatory hurdles have also made it tough for B.C.'s many small growers to be licensed; instead, production is dominated by large corporations churning out pot by the ton from massive greenhouses. Regulators hoped to have 250 legal shops operating in British Columbia by now; instead, they have only about 80 private stores and seven government-run shops. Through July, legal sales in B.C. were a meager $25 million. Alberta, with a smaller population, hit $145 million. 'Everybody still uses their neighbors and their backyards,' said Susan Chappelle of the British Columbia Independent Cannabis Association. Nevertheless, the legal market has fans. Vancouver resident Sarah Frank, who used to grow her own marijuana plants, loves that she can walk into a clean, welcoming, legal shop and walk out with a few grams of her favorite cannabis, actor Seth Rogen's Houseplant Sativa brand. 'You don't feel like a criminal,' said Frank, 41. 'I have friends who can't travel to the States because 20 years ago they got busted with a joint.' Some who want to get into the legal business are still waiting. With legalization looming last year, Chris Clay shut down his gray-market pot shop on Vancouver Island for what he thought would be a few months, eager to apply for a license and reopen. A year later, he's still waiting. Some of his workers went on unemployment and eventually found jobs elsewhere. He's barely avoided bankruptcy, and though local officials have finally started handling applications, he says it will likely be another three to six months before he's back in business. 'It's very frustrating,' he said. 'Tourists have been driving up and down the island all summer, saying, 'Where can we go? Where can we go?'' For Mike Babins, who runs Evergreen Cannabis, the Vancouver shop where Frank buys her Seth Rogen-brand weed, it's just fine that legalization is developing slowly. 'Everyone's watching us,' he said. 'If anything goes wrong here, we're screwing it up for the whole world.' ___ Gillies reported from Toronto. Gene Johnson, who reported from Seattle, is a member of the AP's marijuana beat team and can be followed at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle. Follow AP's complete marijuana coverage: https://apnews.com/Marijuana
  • A man was robbed in broad daylight in Brookside on Monday, Tulsa Police say, by a suspect who had a weird choice in weapons: a drill bit. Anthony Anson is accused of threatening the man with the drill bit and taking his phone. But police say the man got to a different phone and called police, who quickly spotted Anson. Anson then tried to claim that HE was the one who had been robbed, police say. “Officer didn't buy it, found that he had the phone is his pocket, and our victim was able to unlock the phone with his code to show that it was his phone,” said Tulsa Police Officer Danny Bean. Anson was arrested.
  • The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation released more details Wednesday on the victims from Tuesday night’s murder-suicide in Miami. Agents says 11-year-old Kayla Billings was shot and killed by her father, 39-year-old David Billings before he turned the gun on himself. Investigators say Wallace also shot his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Melissa Wallace and James Miller were found wounded outside of Miller’s home. Wallace and Miller were taken to a Tulsa hospital in critical condition. Wallace is pregnant. No word on the condition of the unborn child.
  • Angered by the outbreak of violence and a Turkish military invasion in areas of northern Syria held by U.S. forces until just last week, members of both parties joined in the House on Wednesday to deliver a clear rebuke of President Trump as lawmakers easily approved a resolution denouncing the policy change. 'This is one of those rare moments in Congress where we see both sides coming together,' said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), as the House voted 354-60 for the resolution. The plan decried 'an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria,' saying the resulting change 'is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.' 'President Trump's decision to pull hastily out of Syria has caused a humanitarian disaster, endangers our Kurdish allies, and could cause the resurgence of ISIS,' said Rep. David Trone (D-MD). 'The President has demonstrated complete disregard for the harmful implications that his erratic decision-making will have on our troops,' tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO). Even among GOP lawmakers who don't like these type of overseas deployments for the U.S. military, there was the overwhelming sense that the President had hastily decided to withdraw, leaving a vacuum which only benefits Russia and its Syrian allies, along with the Islamic State. After the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lumped additional criticism on the White House, when a briefing for lawmakers on the situation in Syria was scrapped. 'I am deeply concerned that the White House has canceled an all-Member classified briefing on the dangerous situation the President has caused in Syria, denying the Congress its right to be informed as it makes decisions about our national security,' Pelosi said. In the Senate it was much the same, as lawmakers in both parties spent much of Wednesday expressing their outrage over the President's decision, baffled that he would unravel years of work with a minimal number of U.S. troops to hem in Syria and the Islamic State - while partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. 'Withdrawal of U.S. troops gave Turkey a green light to go into Syria,' said Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT). At the White House, the President denied that he had given Turkish leaders the green light - but a White House statement issued when Mr. Trump's withdrawal was announced clearly stated that the U.S. expected Turkey to move forces into Northern Syria. 'I want to get out of the Middle East,' the President said on Wednesday. Not long after the vote, members of both parties met with President Trump about Syria - as the meeting quickly turned sour, with Democrats raising objections to the President's moves in withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, and the President pushing back. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats left the meeting, and told reporters that Mr. Trump had a 'meltdown.' Republican leaders and the White House denied that version of events.
  • NASA is moving up the first all-female spacewalk to this week because of a power system failure at the International Space Station. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will now venture out Thursday or Friday, instead of next Monday, to deal with the problem. It will be the first spacewalk by only women in more than a half-century of spacewalking. A critical battery charger failed over the weekend, prompting the change, NASA officials said Monday. The women will replace the broken component, rather than install new batteries, which was their original job. Last week, astronauts conducted the first two of five spacewalks to replace old batteries that make up the station’s solar power network. The remaining spacewalks — originally scheduled for this week and next — have been delayed for at least another few weeks so engineers can determine why the battery charger failed. It’s the second such failure this year. The devices regulate the amount of charge going to and from each battery. One didn’t kick in Friday night, preventing one of the three newly installed lithium-ion batteries from working. The balky charger is 19 years old; the one that failed in the spring was almost as old. Only three spares remain available. “It’s absolutely a concern at this point when you don’t know what’s going on,” said Kenny Todd, a space station manager. “We’re still scratching our heads looking at the data. Hopefully, we can clear that up in relatively short order.”
  • Again endorsing the efforts by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to seek out corruption in Ukraine involving the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump on Wednesday again pressed a conspiracy theory that a DNC computer server hacked by Russia somehow is now in the hands of a company in Ukraine. 'The server - they say - is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine,' the President told reporters in the Oval Office.  Mr. Trump has been pushing the idea that a company brought in by the Democratic National Committee to examine evidence of hacks by Russian intelligence - Crowdstrike - had ties to Ukraine, darkly hinting that Ukraine, and not Russia, may have been behind the DNC hacks in 2016. 'I think it's very important to see the server,' the President said again on Wednesday, even though there is no evidence to support the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. During a July phone call with the leader of Ukraine, President Trump made a specific request that Ukraine help track down the DNC server. 'I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,' the President said according to notes released by the White House.  'I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it,' the transcript states. 'I would like you to get to the bottom of it,' the President is quoted as telling the Ukraine President in that July 25 call. A former top national security aide to President Trump, Thomas Bossert, has sharply criticized the President and top aides in recent weeks for pushing the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. 'It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked,' Bossert told ABC News in late September. In an interview, Bossert blamed Giuliani and other aides for continuing to talk to the President about the unproven Ukraine involvement in the 2016 hacking, which U.S. Intelligence and the Mueller probe has pinned on Russia. 'I am deeply frustrated with what (Giuliani) and the legal team are doing, in repeating that debunked theory to the President,' Bossert said. 'Let me repeat again, that theory has no validity,' Bossert added.

Washington Insider

  • Angered by the outbreak of violence and a Turkish military invasion in areas of northern Syria held by U.S. forces until just last week, members of both parties joined in the House on Wednesday to deliver a clear rebuke of President Trump as lawmakers easily approved a resolution denouncing the policy change. 'This is one of those rare moments in Congress where we see both sides coming together,' said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), as the House voted 354-60 for the resolution. The plan decried 'an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria,' saying the resulting change 'is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.' 'President Trump's decision to pull hastily out of Syria has caused a humanitarian disaster, endangers our Kurdish allies, and could cause the resurgence of ISIS,' said Rep. David Trone (D-MD). 'The President has demonstrated complete disregard for the harmful implications that his erratic decision-making will have on our troops,' tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO). Even among GOP lawmakers who don't like these type of overseas deployments for the U.S. military, there was the overwhelming sense that the President had hastily decided to withdraw, leaving a vacuum which only benefits Russia and its Syrian allies, along with the Islamic State. After the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lumped additional criticism on the White House, when a briefing for lawmakers on the situation in Syria was scrapped. 'I am deeply concerned that the White House has canceled an all-Member classified briefing on the dangerous situation the President has caused in Syria, denying the Congress its right to be informed as it makes decisions about our national security,' Pelosi said. In the Senate it was much the same, as lawmakers in both parties spent much of Wednesday expressing their outrage over the President's decision, baffled that he would unravel years of work with a minimal number of U.S. troops to hem in Syria and the Islamic State - while partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. 'Withdrawal of U.S. troops gave Turkey a green light to go into Syria,' said Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT). At the White House, the President denied that he had given Turkish leaders the green light - but a White House statement issued when Mr. Trump's withdrawal was announced clearly stated that the U.S. expected Turkey to move forces into Northern Syria. 'I want to get out of the Middle East,' the President said on Wednesday. Not long after the vote, members of both parties met with President Trump about Syria - as the meeting quickly turned sour, with Democrats raising objections to the President's moves in withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, and the President pushing back. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats left the meeting, and told reporters that Mr. Trump had a 'meltdown.' Republican leaders and the White House denied that version of events.
  • Again endorsing the efforts by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to seek out corruption in Ukraine involving the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump on Wednesday again pressed a conspiracy theory that a DNC computer server hacked by Russia somehow is now in the hands of a company in Ukraine. 'The server - they say - is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine,' the President told reporters in the Oval Office.  Mr. Trump has been pushing the idea that a company brought in by the Democratic National Committee to examine evidence of hacks by Russian intelligence - Crowdstrike - had ties to Ukraine, darkly hinting that Ukraine, and not Russia, may have been behind the DNC hacks in 2016. 'I think it's very important to see the server,' the President said again on Wednesday, even though there is no evidence to support the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. During a July phone call with the leader of Ukraine, President Trump made a specific request that Ukraine help track down the DNC server. 'I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,' the President said according to notes released by the White House.  'I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it,' the transcript states. 'I would like you to get to the bottom of it,' the President is quoted as telling the Ukraine President in that July 25 call. A former top national security aide to President Trump, Thomas Bossert, has sharply criticized the President and top aides in recent weeks for pushing the idea that the DNC server is in Ukraine. 'It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked,' Bossert told ABC News in late September. In an interview, Bossert blamed Giuliani and other aides for continuing to talk to the President about the unproven Ukraine involvement in the 2016 hacking, which U.S. Intelligence and the Mueller probe has pinned on Russia. 'I am deeply frustrated with what (Giuliani) and the legal team are doing, in repeating that debunked theory to the President,' Bossert said. 'Let me repeat again, that theory has no validity,' Bossert added.
  • Buoyed by the decisions of a series of witnesses to ignore requests by the Trump Administration not to testify before Congress, House Democratic leaders said Tuesday evening that they would push ahead with their impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, seeing no need to hold an official vote now to authorize a formal probe. 'They can't defend the President, so they're going to process,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.  'There's no requirement that we have a vote,' Pelosi pointed out accurately about the rules of the House - though Congress in the past has held such votes to officially launch such an investigation. 'What a SCAM,' said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), as Republicans complained bitterly about closed door depositions, and their inability to control the narrative about the investigation - a reminder that elections do matter, as Democrats are able to run this probe simply because they won control of the House in 2018. Democrats emerged from a closed door meeting in no hurry to have a vote on the House floor, as some lawmakers worried that voters would not be able to divine the difference between launching an investigation, and actually casting a vote on impeachment. Coming out of a closed door meeting, House Democrats were a loose group, not feeling any pressure to force a vote - arguing it would be a meaningless exercise. 'It seems to me that every day they get more information,' said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), who said there should be no rush to any vote. 'I don't think it matters at this point,' said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL). 'An inquiry is ongoing.' There were some Democrats who were still withholding judgment. 'I'm not talking, I'm not saying anything,' said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who has steadfastly refused to take a position on the impeachment of President Trump. Republicans denounced the effort. 'They know they cannot win at the ballot box with these out of touch ideas, so they are trying to impeach,' said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Republicans have focused mainly on the closed door aspect of depositions, arguing they undermine the credibility of the impeachment investigation. But GOP lawmakers routinely used closed door questioning during their own investigations of the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and with controversies like Uranium One - where GOP lawmakers interviewed a man who supposedly held bombshell evidence about wrongdoing involving Hillary Clinton. The Q&A was done in secret; no transcript was ever relased. And the GOP never issued any details of what was said to lawmakers.
  • On a day when another Trump Administration official refused to follow the directive of the President to not cooperate with a U.S. House impeachment investigation, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer told Democrats that he would heed Mr. Trump's call, and refuse to turn over documents and other information to Congress. 'Mr. Giuliani will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate 'impeachment inquiry,'' wrote Giuliani's own counsel, John Sale. Those words echoed a missive from the White House last week, in which the President's White House Counsel declared that the Executive Branch would not cooperate with the House impeachment investigation. 'In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry,' the Giuliani letter continued, as Democrats look for more information on what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine in recent months. Democrats had asked for 'text messages, phone records, and other communications' about his work in Ukraine in a September 30 letter which set Monday as the deadline to produce information. 'He’s solely focused on obstructing the Impeachment Inquiry,' tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) about President Trump. 'The White House has engaged in stonewalling and outright defiance of Congressional prerogatives,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. Republicans meanwhile complained that Democrats were running an unfair investigation, echoing attacks from the White House. 'The American people are not participants in this process,' said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), as Republicans said a series of closed door depositions should be made public. As lawmakers in Congress returned from a two week break, some Republicans were reminded of their past statements about figures who refused to honor subpoenas during investigations. Meanwhile, as questioning continued behind closed doors for another State Department witness, an interesting break was developing in this investigation - while high profile witnesses like Giuliani were defying subpoenas, former Trump Administration and State Department officials were not. On Tuesday, George Kent, a State Department official who specializes in Ukraine policy was answering questions, even though he had been directed not to answer any. Wednesday is expected to bring testimony from a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Michael McKinley abruptly resigned from his State Department post earlier this month.
  • WOKV Washington Insider Jamie Dupree took a short break from covering news on Capitol Hill to receive the Radio Television Digital News Association award for innovation. The national award was the latest mark in what has been a years-long personal battle for Dupree.  Following an illness in 2016, Dupree found himself unable to speak in more than a few words at a time. He eventually received a diagnosis of a rare neurological disorder, tongue protrusion dystonia.  The veteran reporter, who has been staple on WOKV and other Cox Media Group news and talk radio stations, continued to work off the radio by sending stories featuring local lawmakers and writing stories in his Washington Insider Blog.  Then in June of 2018, listeners were able to hear Jamie’s voice once again, as Jamie Dupree 2.0 debuted.  Cox Media Group partnered with Scotland-based tech company CereProc to produce a text-to-speech program that compiles years of Jamie’s actual voice.  “The listeners obviously knew something was very wrong when I disappeared from the radio, and I felt it was important to let them know what was going on – and especially important to let them know that I wasn’t dying,” said Dupree.  The RTDNA said Dupree’s story is innovative not only in multiplatform storytelling, but in the use of technology at the heart of the story.  “Since its initial version, the digital Jamie Dupree 2.0 has been improved to sound more natural and less electronic, and regular listeners have gotten used to it. But not all the feedback has been positive. “In today’s world of social media, I routinely get nasty messages each week from people who celebrate the loss of my voice, tell me that I should lose my job, and more. One of the weirdest things has been the accusations by people that since I lost my real voice, I’ve become biased. I think that’s just a sign of the current political times we are in right now,” said Dupree.”.   Dupree’s condition has not changed much, but he has found ways to innovate in the way he communicated with his wife and kids, as well as colleagues and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  “Yes, I would much rather be able to speak – but it was great to get this kind of recognition for the work done by our company to find a way to keep me on the radio”, said Dupree.