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  • Theresa May abandons request for long Brexit delay after Cabinet revolt>
    (Politics - March 20 2019 - 7:37 AM:)

    theresa may brexit delay

    • Theresa May abandons plan to seek a long Brexit delay.
    • Downing Street confirm she will now only seek a short extension of around 3 months.
    • Any longer extension would require Britain to take part in European Parliament elections and could come with conditions, such as that Britain holds a second EU referendum.
    • May's ministers have reportedly threatened to resign if Britain agrees to a long extension of Article 50.

    LONDON — Theresa May has abandoned plans to request a lengthy delay to Brexit of up to two years after a threatened revolt from her Cabinet.

    The prime minister had been intending to write to European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday to demand both a short extension of around three months as well as a lengthier extension of up to two years.

    A promise to demand a lengthier extension by the end of this week if no deal had been backed by MPs, had also formed part of a Commons motion passed by the government last week.

    However, Downing Street sources confirmed on Wednesday morning that the prime minister would no longer be seeking the lengthier extension after members of her Cabinet reportedly threatened to resign.

    "[The prime minister] won't be asking for a long extension," a senior government official said.

    "There is a case for giving parliament a bit more time to agree a way forward, but the people of this country have been waiting nearly three years now.

    "They are fed up with Parliament's failure to take a decision and the PM shares their frustration."

    The prime minister will publish her letter to Tusk later today. It is expected to contain a request for an extension of the two-year Article 50 process, until the end of June.

    Downing Street had been planning to also seek a lengthier extension as part of a plan to persuade Brexiteer Conservative MPs to back her deal before the end of the original Article 50 process, due to finish on March 29.

    Any lengthier extension would require the UK to take part in the European elections in May and would have risked the EU attaching strict conditions, such as the demand that Britain should agree to a softer Brexit or to hold a second referendum.

    Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, confirmed that any extension would be short.

    "The letter to Donald Tusk will be setting out what we are looking for in terms of short extension," he said.

    "We need to get this deal done. People are a bit bored of waiting for parliament to get our act together and get this over the line so we can move onto other things."

    A longer extension would have likely triggered a series of walkouts from May's Cabinet by senior Brexiteers, many of whom are already furious about the prime minister's inability to ensure that Britain leaves by the original Article 50 deadline.

    The prime minister had been considering plans to hold a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal this week after it was rejected for a second time earlier this month.

    However, the plan was scuppered after the Speaker John Bercow ruled on Monday that the prime minister could not keep on bringing the vote back to the House of Commons unless the government secured significant changes to the deal.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • An off-duty pilot reportedly prevented a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash one day before the same plane crashed and killed 189 passengers and crew (BA)>
    (Politics - March 20 2019 - 1:02 AM:)

    Lion Air Boeing.JPG

    • An off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 Max 8 fixed a malfunction on the second-to-the-last flight for the aircraft before same plane crashed during a different flight in the Java Sea the next day, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday evening.
    • The pilot reportedly advised the crew to kill the power to a motor that was pointing the aircraft's nose downward. That move helped prevent a catastrophe, according to Bloomberg.
    • The aircraft was being operated by a different crew the next day, on October 29, 2018, and crashed fewer than 15 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
    • That same system is under intense scrutiny as authorities continue to investigate another crash involving the 737 Max.

    An off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 Max 8 fixed a malfunction during the second-to-the-last flight for the aircraft before it crashed into the Java Sea the next day, according to a Bloomberg report published on Tuesday that cited two people with knowledge of the investigation in Indonesia.

    The Lion Air crew members reportedly received the help from the off-duty pilot, who fixed a malfunctioning sensor from an automated system designed to prevent the plane from stalling. The pilot advised the crew to kill the power to a motor that was pointing the aircraft's nose downward, Bloomberg reported, citing the people with knowledge of the investigation.

    The same plane, which was being operated by a separate crew, crashed into the Java Sea near Indonesia the next day, on October 29, 2018. All 189 passengers and crew on board were killed.

    A Lion Air spokesman did not provide additional comment on Bloomberg's findings.

    Read more: The US government wants to audit how the Boeing 737 Max got approved to fly by the FAA

    "All the data and information that we have on the flight and the aircraft have been submitted to the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee," a spokesperson told Bloomberg. "We can't provide additional comment at this stage due the ongoing investigation on the accident."

    The 737 Max's automated safety feature has been under intense scrutiny after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash that killed all 157 passengers on March 10, five months after the Lion Air crash.

    As Boeing and aviation authorities investigate the incidents, initial reports suggest that a faulty reading from a sensor could have played a role in both crashes. The reports indicated that the faulty sensor may have triggered the plane's automated system and pointed the nose downward after takeoff.

    After the crash, other countries grounded the 737 Max aircraft, including China, which has the most number of 737s. The US was the last country to ground the plane.

    SEE ALSO: Trump just nominated a permanent FAA head — more than a year after the last one left

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  • The US could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia and has killed civilians in airstrikes, according to a new report>
    (Politics - March 20 2019 - 12:01 AM:)

    Al Shabaab

    • The US government could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia after evidence of civilian casualties was uncovered in an investigation led by Amnesty International.
    • The investigation found that US airstrikes from both drones and manned aircraft killed at least 14 civilians and injured seven more people in just five of more than 100 strikes in the past two years.
    • "The public needs to understand that the US government really doesn't do a very good job of investigating who it's killed. We've seen this repeatedly now," an expert at Amnesty International told INSIDER.
    • "The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes," the Amnesty International report said.

    The US military could be guilty of war crimes in Somalia, according to a new report that challenges what the government has said about civilian casualties from its bombing campaign against al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, in the African nation.

    The investigation, conducted by Amnesty International, found that US airstrikes from both drones and manned aircraft killed at least 14 civilians and injured seven more people in just five of more than 100 strikes in the past two years.

    "The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes," the Amnesty International report said.

    The US Africa Command (AFRICOM), one of the Pentagon's 10 combatant command centers worldwide, "repeated its denial that any civilians have been killed in its operations in Somalia" when presented with Amnesty International's findings.

    Read more: Trump inherited President Barack Obama's drone war and he's significantly expanded it in countries where the US is not technically at war

    Amnesty International conducted more than 150 interviews with "eyewitnesses, relatives, persons displaced by the fighting, and expert sources," while "rigorously" analyzing "satellite imagery, munition fragments, and photos from the aftermath of air strikes." Amnesty International could not sufficiently corroborate reports of civilian casualties in each one of the dozens of strikes in Somalia that it examined, but it said in its report that the "civilian death toll may well be much higher."

    The Department of Defense and US government "have not been honest about civilian casualties from its operations in Somalia," Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA's director of security with human rights, told INSIDER.

    The US has conducted dozens of strikes in Somalia under President Donald Trump, and it's not clear which were done under the Pentagon versus the CIA. Most drone strikes conducted by the Pentagon are required to be disclosed publicly, but the US intelligence community does not operate under the same rules.

    "AFRICOM has consistently said, despite dozens of airstrikes every year, that there have been zero civilian casualties" in Somalia, Eviatar said, adding that this assertion is "just not credible."

    Amnesty International was "very suspicious" of the military's consistent claims it wasn't killing any civilians in airstrikes, Eviatar said.

    Read more: Trump quietly rewrote the rules of drone warfare, which means the US can now kill civilians in secret

    "We'd been getting some reports from the ground that this wasn't the case," she added. "But we didn't know for sure until we went there and interviewed witnesses, looked at a ton of evidence, and realized that, in fact, there are children, farmers, and well-diggers being killed — people who are clearly not al-Shabab fighters."

    The US government "needs to acknowledge" these civilian casualties, Eviatar said, adding that it looks like the military is engaging in what are known as "signature strikes" — strikes that target military-age males, even if the US isn't certain they have ties to militant or extremist groups. "That's completely unlawful," Eviatar said, adding that criticism on this practice led Obama to establish new rules designed to protect civilians.

    Read more: The US military says it killed roughly 60 'terrorists' in Somalia airstrike, the deadliest strike in roughly a year

    Trump has rolled back Obama-era rules on covert drone strikes and has overseen a drastic increase in the number of strikes in Somalia, expanding the shadow wars that began under Obama. Under Trump, the US conducted more drone strikes in Somalia in 2017 alone than the total number conducted in the African nation during Obama's entire tenure.

    Amnesty International's investigation comes on the heels of a decision from Trump to end an Obama-era rule for the US government to publicly report on civilian casualties from drone strikes. The reversal of that rule indicates there will be even less transparency on a program that was already virtually entirely out of the public eye.

    Read more: America's year in war: All the places US armed forces took or gave fire in 2018

    "The public needs to understand that the US government really doesn't do a very good job of investigating who it's killed. We've seen this repeatedly now," Eviatar said. "We saw it in Iraq, we saw it in Syria, and now we're seeing it in Somalia."

    Experts have pointed to civilian casualties from drone strikes as a catalyst and recruiting tool for terrorism, which underscores why this is an issue that strongly influences the public, even though it might have little knowledge about it because of the secrecy surrounding these strikes.

    In 2010, a man named Faisal Shahzad attempted to bomb Times Square in New York City. Shahzad cited drone strikes as his inspiration.

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  • An internet pioneer is doubtful Mark Zuckerberg can refocus Facebook on privacy. Here's why. (FB)>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 11:12 PM:)

    Paul Vixie, CEO of Farsight Security, as seen at Business Insider's San Francisco office on March 6, 2019.

    • Internet pioneer Paul Vixie is dubious about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plan to create a "privacy focused" social networking platform.
    • Vixie, the CEO of Farsight securities, has worked on privacy and security issues for decades.
    • The concepts of "private" and "social" are fundamentally at odds, and no one yet has figured out a way to blend the two, he said.
    • Facebook may be feeling constrained by Europe's new privacy law, which illustrates how difficult it can be to promote both privacy and a social-based business, he said.

    When it comes to Mark Zuckerberg's plan to transform Facebook by emphasizing "privacy-focused" social networking, count Paul Vixie as a skeptic. 

    The concepts of private and social are, by their nature, at odds with one another, says Vixie, the CEO of Farsight Security. Vixie, who helped create some of the founding technology underlying the internet and has worked for decades on privacy and security issues, is dubious that Facebook will be able to find some middle ground in between them and still be able to have a fast-growing business.

    "Private is not social, and social is not private. And so, if you're doing one, you're not doing the other," he said. "Please make up your mind."

    "At the moment, the Venn diagram doesn't have any overlapping circles," he continued. "So, I'm not going to say it can't be done, but I will say that I'm not convinced."

    Zuckerberg laid out his plans to build a "privacy-focused platform" in a blog post earlier this month. As envisioned by Zuckerberg, the new platform will allow users to interact privately via end-to-end encryption. It will also connect the company's various messaging services, allowing Instagram users to exchange messages with those on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. The company plans to reconstruct several of its services with these ideas in mind, he said.

    Read this: Facebook says it will move to encrypted, auto-deleting messages — and warns that some countries might decide to ban it

    Facebook's CEO didn't explain how the company would make money off the its new privacy-centric services, although he suggested that Facebook will build into them the ability for corporations to connect with consumers and for consumers to be able to purchase goods through them. Ostensibly, Facebook would charge companies for such services.

    Right now, almost all of the social-networking company's revenue has come from digital advertising. The ad-targeting machine the company has built has allowed it to build a huge and fast-growing business that has allowed it, along with Google, to dominate the digital advertising industry. 

    New privacy laws could disrupt Facebook's ad business

    But Facebook may be starting to feel that its advertising efforts are being constrained, Vixie suggested. Under the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, which took effect last year, companies such as Facebook can't collect or share data from European users without first getting their permission.

    FILE - In this April 11, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. Zuckerberg said Facebook will start to emphasize new privacy-shielding messaging services, a shift apparently intended to blunt both criticism of the company's data handling and potential antitrust action. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)Indeed, that law illustrates how the concepts and values of "privacy" and "social" are fundamentally opposed, Vixie said. The law seeks to protect European citizens' privacy by giving them control and ultimate say over their data. In so doing, the law threatens to disrupt the social-networking giant's advertising business. 

    For that business, Facebook has collected copious amounts of data about its users, both based on what they post on the site and their interactions off of it. It's encouraged users to share ever more data about themselves by introducing new social features and has made itself valuable to advertisers by allowing them to access such data to target individuals or groups of users.

    But GDPR could preclude Facebook from iterating on that business by widely rolling out new advertising services or other features, Vixie said. Facebook couldn't offer such features to individual users — at least in Europe — unless and until they agreed, one by one, to allow the company to access and use whatever data it needed for those services, he said.

    And it could soon face similar difficulties elsewhere. California last year passed a privacy law that's similar to GDPR, and other governments are looking at it as a model for their own privacy legislation.

    If Facebook has to get every user to click "yes" on a checkbox every time it wants to introduce a new feature, "it would mean that they could no longer operate as a hyper-scale company," Vixie said, adding that "hyperscale is what lets them have a share price that is such a high multiple of their earnings."

    Got a tip about a startup or other tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

    SEE ALSO: Facebook is reportedly considering paying a record multibillion-dollar fine to settle the FTC's investigation into its privacy practices

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  • Ivanka Trump reportedly used a workaround to get access to Air Force planes after being rejected. 68% of Americans surveyed think someone who uses the same workaround should be punished.>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 10:55 PM:)

    jared Kushner Ivanka Trump

    • According to the new book "Kushner, Inc." by journalist Vicky Ward, White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attempted to exert influence over trips funded by the State Department.
    • Ward also reported that when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would reject requests to use Air Force planes for flights, Trump would invite cabinet-level officials on the flights as a workaround.
    • A spokesperson for Kushner's attorney has denied the claims in the book.
    • In a new INSIDER poll, 68% of people surveyed thought it would be inappropriate for a government official to use Ivanka's reported workaround to get access to an Air Force plane.
    • 34% of respondents said using such a workaround would be "possibly a fireable offense."

    A significant majority of Americans do not approve of the workaround White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump reportedly used to gain access to the use of Air Force planes, according to a new INSIDER poll.

    According to journalist Vicky Ward's new book "Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump," Ivanka, President Donald Trump's daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner wanted influence over who traveled on some State Department trips.

    Ward reported that Ivanka would request to use Air Force plans for travel when it was not necessary, leading then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to reject the requests.

    To get around the rejections, the book said, Trump would invite cabinet-level officials to join the trips in order to receive approval for the Air Force planes.

    Read more: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were repeatedly rejected when they tried to fly on Air Force planes, so they found a workaround»

    According to a new INSIDER poll, 68% of respondents believe that a government official using the workaround described by Ward should be punished.

    In order to determine people's opinions of the situation, we asked: "According to a new report, a US government official who was initially rejected from traveling on a US Air Force plane found a workaround by inviting Cabinet-level officials on to those trips to get access to Air Force travel. What best represents your view on this?"

    In response:

    • 34% of respondents said such an action is inappropriate and is "a possibly fireable offense"
    • 34% of respondents said such an action is wrong and it should be reprimanded
    • 11% of respondents said they such an action isn't inappropriate, but it should stop going forward
    • 8% of respondents said they had some questions, but didn't think such an action was a problem
    • 3% of respondents didn't see a problem with such an action
    • 10% of respondents didn't have an opinion

    Interestingly, the idea polled even worse with people who identified as conservative: 40% of respondents who identified as "very" or "somewhat" conservative thought the workaround should "a possibly fireable offense."

    In a statement to the New York Times, which first reported the book's description of the workaround, a spokesperson for Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney denied the claims in "Kushner, Inc."

    "Every point that Ms. Ward mentioned in what she called her 'fact checking' stage was entirely false," Peter Mirijanian, the spokesperson, told the Times. "It seems she has written a book of fiction rather than any serious attempt to get the facts. Correcting everything wrong would take too long and be pointless."

    SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,178 respondents collected March 16-17, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.07 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

    SEE ALSO: New book on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump paints a gloomy portrait of their lives as the children of billionaires

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  • Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign has been quietly getting advice from journalist David Sirota for months, even as he relentlessly attacked other Democratic candidates, and now he's the senator's speechwriter>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 10:22 PM:)

    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) takes the stage at a campaign rally in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., March 10, 2019.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

    • David Sirota, a journalist who's been tapped as Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 speechwriter, was working for the campaign in an unofficial capacity for months as he simultaneously attacked other Democratic candidates on Twitter. 
    • According to The Atlantic, Sirota deleted roughly 20,000 tweets on Monday, a day before it was announced he's on Sanders' campaign. 
    • Faiz Shakir, Sanders' 2020 campaign manager, told INSIDER the campaign feels "good about the diversity of thought" among its recent hires. 

    Sen. Bernie Sanders' new speechwriter for his 2020 campaign has been attacking other 2020 Democratic candidates nonstop for months as an unofficial employee.

    David Sirota, a journalist known for his unabashed progressive politics and vicious Twitter-takedowns, has been slamming candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Beto O'Rourke, on social media, his website, and in columns for the Guardian. All the while, he was advising Sanders' campaign in an unofficial capacity while helping him write early campaign speeches, The Atlantic reported. 

    Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, confirmed to The Atlantic that Sirota was working for the campaign in an undisclosed role in a test trial of sorts to see how the journalist and senator got along. 

    Read more: Bernie Sanders says he needs to do a 'better job' explaining socialism as Republicans try to link his policies to Venezuela

    The Sanders campaign on Tuesday announced a slew of new hires, including Sirota as a senior communications adviser and speechwriter.

    Sirota, who reportedly deleted up to 20,000 tweets on Monday prior to the big announcement, often defended his incendiary attacks on prominent Democrats by citing his position as a journalist. 

    He is not the first Sanders 2020 campaign hire to raise eyebrows on social media.

    Belén Sisa, the campaign's deputy national press secretary, recently sparked uproar when in a Facebook discussion she suggested American Jews have "dual loyalty" to Israel. Sisa has since apologized for these comments. Her Facebook page is no longer publicly viewable.

    Read more: Bernie Sanders hits the 2020 campaign trail with rockstar status, a far cry from the start of the 2016 campaign

    Meanwhile, old tweets from Sanders' new press secretary Briahna Joy Gray on Russian election interference, a journalist whose role with the campaign was also announced Tuesday, have gained attention on social media. In one such tweet from September 2016, Gray said, "@realDonaldTrump is right. The dems pushed the 'Russia did the hacking' angle b/c it was politically advantageous for them. #debatenight."

    This tweet came amid a presidential debate in which then-candidate Donald Trump suggested China or a person who "weights 400 pounds" could've been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee. The US intelligence community has concluded the Kremlin, under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was responsible. 

    Some reporters have interpreted Gray's tweet as suggesting the hacks were an "inside job," implying there was a conspiratorial element to her statements at the time. 

    When asked about Gray's tweet, Shakir told INSIDER he "didn't read it that way." In his view, Gray was being critical of the "preponderance" of attention that was granted to Russia at the time and felt it was "distracting from other arguments that could be used to defeat Donald Trump."

    "What's past is in the past. We don't own a lot of the views she's articulated in the past," Shakir said.

    "Now, going forward, we are all on one team. I have zero doubt she will be a full team player," he added. 

    When asked for a comment about the general narrative surrounding some of these new hires and some of the immediate criticism, including toward Sirota, Shakir said, "I welcome people digging into Twitter profiles if that’s what they want to do with their time."

    Read more: Before he was a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders pushed for nationalizing major industries in the 1970s

    "We're honored to have Briahna on this campaign," Shakir said, adding that the campaign has tried to "put together" a team that "looks like and reflects America." 

    "We feel good about the diversity of thought in this campaign," he said, contending that Sanders  is "doing his part to enlarge his tent" with his campaign hires.

    As of Tuesday, 70% of Sanders' national leadership team for his 2020 campaign is comprised of women. The Vermont senator has prioritized diversity in both his rhetoric and campaign staff in 2020 after facing criticism for having a mostly male and white staff in 2016. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Director Alex Gibney looks back on a career of profiling liars and shady characters, from Elizabeth Holmes to Lance Armstrong, and crowns the most despicable>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 9:14 PM:)

    alex gibney shady characters 2x1

    For close to 40 years, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney has made movies about some of the most complex and controversial figures of the last century.

    He’s examined the maddening drive of Steve Jobs (“Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”), the bald-faced lies of people like Lance Armstrong (“The Armstrong Lie”) and Julian Assange (“We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks”), and even the mind games done by the head of Scientology, David Miscavige (“Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief”).

    Now you can add to the list disgraced Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes, the subject of his latest documentary, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”

    So what attracts Gibney to do movies on people like these?

    “Abuse of power,” Gibney told Business Insider. “The way that power gets abused is sometimes appealing to people’s sense of idealism. Then that allows a kind of latitude we otherwise wouldn’t give them. They blind us.”

    Here Gibney looks back on some of the shady people he’s made movies about over the years, and says who is the most despicable:

    SEE ALSO: Why Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes wasn't interviewed for HBO's "The Inventor" documentary

    Elizabeth Holmes — “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” (2019)

    Like many of the people on this list, Holmes falls into the group that Gibney described as “prisoners of belief.” These are people who are so sucked into their “cause” that they can convince others to join them and can’t see the wrong being done.

    “Her goal was so high minded and she fell so far so fast, to me it seemed like a good opportunity to explore the psychology of fraud,” said Gibney on what fascinated him about doing a movie on Holmes. “Not only how somebody like Elizabeth deceives herself but how she deceives investors and journalists and customers.”

    Lance Armstrong — “The Armstrong Lie” (2013)

    In this documentary, Gibney first set out to make a comeback film about Armstrong’s return to cycling after retiring in 2005. Then the movie changed after the cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner was hit with a lifetime ban from the sport following a doping investigation. Gibney’s movie became a search for answers from Armstrong. But like Holmes,  Armstrong is too much a prisoner of belief.

    “Lance could stand up after a race and say, ‘How dare you say that I, as a cancer survivor, would ever use performance enhancing drugs.’ And I think in the moment he said that he believed it,” Gibney said. “But then he would get off the stage, go into the bus, and do a bag of blood. So it wasn't like he was unaware of the cheating that he was doing, he just felt that in that moment that was a lie that everybody wanted to believe so badly he could say it as if it were true.”

    Julian Assange — “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” (2013)

    Gibney looks inside what led to the birth of WikiLeaks and in doing so discovers the dark side of its creator: from sexual assault allegations to the time Assange abandoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who was imprisoned for seven years for providing WikiLeaks with what is believed to be the largest release of state secrets in US history.

    “Assange is the perfect example of the prisoner of belief, he believed that what he was doing was so good that he was entitled to do anything,” Gibney said. “The truth is that Assange knew damn well who Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning was. But pretended that he had this anonymized leaking machine, which prevented him from knowing the identity of the leaker. That just wasn't so. He knew the identity of the leaker and then when the leaker needed him most he deserted her.” 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • Trump just nominated a permanent FAA head — more than a year after the last one left>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 9:06 PM:)

    Steve Dickson_

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated the former Delta Air Lines executive Steve Dickson as the permanent head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    The Wall Street Journal first reported that the White House intended to nominate Dickson for the role as early as Tuesday.

    Read more: The US government wants to audit how the Boeing 737 Max got approved to fly by the FAA

    The FAA has not had a permanent leader since former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta left the role in January 2018. Daniel Elwell, previously the FAA's deputy administrator, took on the role on an interim basis after Huerta's departure.

    Dickson was Delta Air Lines' senior vice president of flight operations until his retirement in October 2018.

    Dickson's nomination as FAA head comes after the agency's March 13 order to ground Boeing's 737 Max aircraft, which have been involved in two deadly crashes in the past five months. The timing of the FAA's grounding order was met with scrutiny because it came a day after many other countries, including France, Britain, and Canada, announced 737 Max bans.

    SEE ALSO: The Boeing 737 Max is likely to be the last version of the best-selling airliner of all time

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • The White House's biggest annual economic report lists the alter-egos of Spider-man, Captain America, Batman, and a Game of Thrones character as interns>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 8:31 PM:)

    spider man captain america

    • The White House released the annual Economic Report of the President on Tuesday.
    • The report lists interns by name, several of which are fictional characters from comic books and Game of Thrones, as well as actor John Cleese.
    • The White House did not respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

    WASHINGTON — The Economic Report of the President released on Tuesday by the White House lists several fictional comic book characters and actors as interns for the Council of Economic Advisers.

    Characters from Spider-Man, Batman, and actor John Cleese are among the names printed in the official report touting President Donald Trump's economic gains in the past year.

    Read more: 'It'll never happen': Trump dismisses Democrats' radical idea to reshape the Supreme Court

    "Student interns provide invaluable help with research projects, day-to-day operations, and fact-checking," the report notes on page 624.

    The report then lists interns from the previous year, which include Spider-Man's alter ego Peter Parker, the fictional character's guardian Aunt May, Steve Rogers from Captain America, billionaire caped crusader Bruce Wayne from Batman, and actor John Cleese. Another name listed is John Snow, similar to the spelling of the Game of Thrones character Jon Snow.

    The White House did not respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

    The Council of Economic Advisers' official Twitter account posted that it was a deliberate attempt to bring attention to their interns and not as mistake of any kind.

    "Thank you for noticing, our interns are indeed super heroes!" the CEA wrote on Twitter. "We’ve thought so all along, but we knew it'd take a little more to get them the attention they deserve. They have made significant contributions to the Economic Report of the President and do so every day at CEA."

    "Did folks really think this was a mistake?!?" they added in a follow up tweet. "That would never have made it past our fact-checkers -- who, in fact, include our interns!"

    The Economic Report of the President is an annual report dating back to at least 1995 that looks back at the previous year's economic performance and set economic goals for the year ahead.

    Outside of the apparent Easter eggs, this year's report focuses on the various economic improvements during the Trump administration, like 7.6 million job openings paired with historically low unemployment rates.

    The report also touts the United States as the world’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    "Our strength in the energy sector has invigorated our economy, created jobs, and reduced our dependence on energy from countries that do not share our values," the report reads.

    SEE ALSO: How the 15 richest members of Congress made their money

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What happens when the president declares a national emergency

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  • 67% of Americans don’t know what Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump actually do in the White House>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 8:12 PM:)

    Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

    • The vast majority of Americans say they have no idea what first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner do in the White House, a new INSIDER poll found. 
    • Both top White House advisers have reportedly maintained central and far-reaching roles in the White House, but their specific responsibilities have long remained vague. 
    • Reports emerged recently that the president pressured his staff to give his eldest daughter and son-in-law security clearances, despite objections from senior staffers.

    The vast majority of Americans say they have no idea what first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner do in the White House, a new INSIDER poll found. 

    39% of respondents said they "definitely could not" accurately describe the couple's job responsibilities, while about 28% said they "probably could not." Meanwhile, about 19% said they "probably" or "definitely" could name the pair's West Wing duties.

    Ivanka and Jared helped steer President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and have reportedly maintained central and far-reaching roles since joining the administration as unpaid White House advisers. 

    While Ivanka has focused her public-facing work on economic policy and issues affecting women and families, Kushner's massive portfolio has included crafting Middle East policy, tackling the country's opioid crisis, and leading government reform and innovation efforts. 

    Read more: Trump reportedly pressured his staff to grant Ivanka and Jared Kushner their security clearances

    The controversial couple have become targets of intense criticism from both within the administration and from political foes. 

    Reports emerged recently that Trump pressured his staff to give Ivanka and Jared security clearances, despite objections from senior staffers.

    Then-chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn both objected to the president's demand that they grant the clearances so that it wouldn't look like the Trump was inappropriately influencing the process, CNN reported earlier this month.

    Trump ultimately granted the security clearances himself, according to reports, but made public statements denying any involvement.  

    SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,178 respondents collected March 16-17, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.07 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

    SEE ALSO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is blaming her low approval among Republicans on Fox News' relentless coverage of her

    SEE ALSO: New book on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump paints a gloomy portrait of their lives as the children of billionaires

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What happens when the president declares a national emergency

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  • Trump says 'we have to do something' about social media (FB)>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 8:08 PM:)

    donald trump rose garden white house

    • President Trump called vaguely for action to be taken against social media companies, saying "we have to do something."
    • At a press conference, the president repeated allegations, without proof, of anti-conservative bias by Facebook, Twitter, and Google, a popular right-wing talking point.
    • The companies in question deny they have any bias against conservative users.

    US President Donald Trump has said "we have to do something" about social media.

    On Tuesday, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, the reality TV star-turned-politician was asked about the potential liability of social media firms for content uploaded to their platforms.

    In response, Trump talked vaguely about the need to take action against tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, alleging they are biased against conservatives — a frequent right-wing talking point that is strongly challenged by the companies in question.

    "It seems to be, if they're conservative, if they're Republicans, if they're in a certain group, there's discrimination ... I see it absolutely on Twitter, and Facebook which I have also, and others I see" — adding, without evidence, that there is "collusion" between the big tech companies on the issue.

    In practice, social media services have provided an huge platform for conservative voices.

    Fox News is consistently the most popular news outlet on Facebook, analysis from NewsWhip found, while right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro's page drives some of the most user engagement on the platform. YouTube, meanwhile, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent months over how its algorithms can drive users towards ever-more extreme views, indoctrinating them into the racist far-right.

    And Trump's public criticism of Facebook hasn't stopped his campaign from using the service as a way to reach voters ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The president's campaign has spent more on Facebook advertising to date than every other potential 2020 candidate combined.

    Trump also used the opportunity on Tuesday to take shots at another favorite target of his — television news networks. 

    "Something's happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think we have to get to the bottom of it. It's very fair, it's collusive, and it's very very fair to day that we have to do something about it," he said.

    "And if we don't — you know, the incredible thing is we can win an election and we have such a stacked deck, and that include networks. Frankly, if you look at the networks, if you look at the news, you look at the newscasts — I call it 'fake news,' I'm very proud to hear the president use the term 'fake news' — but you look at what's happening with the networks, you look at what's happening with different shows, and it's hard to believe we win."

    He added: "But you know, I'll tell you what: It really shows the people are smart. The people get it. They'll go through all of whatever it is they're fed and in the end they pull the right lever. It's a very, very dangerous situation, so I think I agree something has to be looked at very closely."

    Here's a clip of the question and answer, via Yahoo News:

    President Trump says "we have to do something" about social media, alleging, without evidence, that "names are taken off" and "people aren't getting through" and that "there is collusion" pic.twitter.com/a83WcjIFpG

    — Yahoo News (@YahooNews) March 19, 2019

    Do you work in Silicon Valley? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at rprice@businessinsider.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

    SEE ALSO: Trump reportedly has a $50,000 golf simulator in the White House, but that's just the starting price for these luxury setups

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  • 6 ways the Trump administration has tried to roll back environmental protections that keep US drinking water safe>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 7:25 PM:)

    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump has slashed a number of regulations aimed at protecting America's waterways, including many that affect the country's drinking water. 
    • Trump has contended the regulations he's rolled back — or sought to rescind — put unnecessary burdens on US industries. 
    • Research shows millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water every year, and environmental groups warn Trump's decisions could compound this issue. 

    Since entering the White House, President Donald Trump has rolled back a number of environmental regulations put in place by his predecessors that could make drinking water less safe for people across the US. 

    Trump has faced some legal hurdles in attempting to repeal such regulations, but he's been fairly successful in this effort as he's argued that such rules are burdensome to farmers and businesses. 

    The rules Trump has slashed have made it easier for corporations to dump pollutants into water systems, which in turn has the potential to seep into drinking water.

    According to the US Geological Survey, in 2005 roughly 43 million Americans — approximately 15 percent of the population — supplied their own drinking water and 99 percent of that came from groundwater.

    In short, when ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes are polluted, it can seep into groundwater and has the potential to negatively affect a significant number of Americans who get their water from wells. 

    Studies have shown that millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water every year. This issue goes well beyond the highly publicized stories like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. 

    Here are the environmental rules Trump has repealed — or is fighting to repeal — that could affect drinking water in the US:

    SEE ALSO: The Trump administration admitted the lowest number of refugees the US has accepted 40 years — here's what people go through to make it to the US

    Ended regulation to protect streams and waterways from coal mining waste.

    In February 2017, Trump repealed an Obama-era environmental regulation aimed at protecting streams and waterways from coal mining waste — the Stream Protection Rule.

    The rule required surface mining activities to be kept at least 100 feet away from streams, which including the dumping of mining waste. By repealing the rule, Trump made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mining debris in streams. 

    Trump contended the rule placed unnecessary burdens on the coal mining industry, but environmental groups said its repeal increased health risks for rural communities by disregarding "basic clean water safeguards."

    Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, a state with a long history of coal mining, was staunchly opposed to the rule's repeal. 

    He brought polluted well water from his district and challenged his GOP colleagues to try it, stating he'd vote in favor of rolling the regulation back if one of them did. Ultimately, no Republican lawmakers accepted Yarmuth's offer, USA Today reported

    At the time, Yarmuth said, "This came from the drinking well of the Urias family's home in Pike County, Kentucky."

    Yarmuth contended the rule was "one of the only safety measures that would protect these families from poisoned drinking water, higher rates of cancer, lung disease, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, birth defects and the countless negative health effects that plague this region."

    Delayed a regulation on the level of toxic pollutants released by steam electric power plants

    The Trump administration has delayed the Power Plant Water Pollution Rule, which was finalized in 2015 under the Obama administration and regulated the level of toxic pollutants released by steam electric power plants. 

    "Among all industries regulated under the Clean Water Act, steam electric power plants contribute the greatest amount of toxic pollutants discharged to surface waters," according to the Brookings Institution.

    While Scott Pruitt was still administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he moved to postpone compliance dates for aspects of the rule.

    The rule is partially in effect, but the EPA under Trump has been sued by environmental groups over its efforts to delay portions of the regulation. 

    Ended a rule that required companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking

    The Oil and Gas Fracking Rule, finalized under the Obama administration in March 2015, was rescinded by the Department of the Interior under Trump in late 2017. 

    The Obama-era rule required companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, the practice of pumping fluids into the ground at high pressure to free up oil or natural gas for extraction.

    Fracking is a controversial practice that environmental groups and researchers have warned can contaminate groundwater, drinking water, and adversely impact people's health

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • 'It'll never happen': Trump dismisses Democrats' radical idea to reshape the Supreme Court>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 6:56 PM:)

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the Rose Garden at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting President Bolsonaro for a visit and bilateral talks at the White House today. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

    • President Trump said proposals to expand the number of Supreme Court justices will "never happen."
    • Several Democratic presidential candidates have entertained the idea of packing the courts.
    • Historically, the Supreme Court's number of justices has fluctuated.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said proposals from a number of Democrats to expand the number of Supreme Court justices will "never happen."

    Several Democratic presidential candidates have embraced the prospect of "court packing" and increasing the number of Supreme Court justices beyond nine, citing anger with how Republicans in the Senate and the White House have reshaped the federal courts over the past few years.

    Read more: Pete Buttigieg wants to end the Electoral College, add more seats to the Supreme Court, and become America's youngest president

    During a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday, Trump said he would not entertain the idea of expanding the Supreme Court.

    "The only reason they're doing that is they're trying to catch up," Trump said of Democrats. "So if they can't catch up through the ballot box by winning an election they want to try doing it in a different way."

    "We would have no interest in doing that whatsoever," he added. "It'll never happen. It won't happen. It won't happen I guarantee you for six years."

    South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg explicitly endorsed the idea of adding more justices to the Supreme Court, while other candidates have expressed openness to the prospect.

    California Sen. Kamala Harris said, "We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court."

    "We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that," she added.

    Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who announced his presidential run last week, said at a campaign event he would consider changes to the courts.

    "What if there were five justices selected by Democrats, five justices selected by Republicans, and those ten then picked five more justices independent of those who chose the first ten?" O'Rourke said. "I think that’s an idea that we should explore."

    The Supreme Court's number of justices is not fixed and has changed throughout US history, leaving the door open for Democrats looking to change things in their favor.

    During the final years of the Obama administration, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the confirmation of scores of federal judgeships, including Merrick Garland, a nominee for the Supreme Court.

    Since Trump has become president, the high number of vacancies has allowed Republicans to confirm lifetime-appointed judges at a breakneck speed, including two Supreme Court justices.

    SEE ALSO: How the 15 richest members of Congress made their money

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is being praised for her line of questioning at Michael Cohen's hearing — watch it here

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  • Beto O'Rourke just endorsed a healthcare idea called 'Medicare for America' which differs in some major ways from Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare for All' plan>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 6:08 PM:)

    Beto O'Rourke makes a campaign stop in State College, PA on March 19, 2019. The candidate from El Paso, TX is the first Democratic candidate to campaign in the Keystone State during a multi-day, multi-state road trip that includes stops in Iowa, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

    • Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke backed a public option system in which Americans could keep their private health insurance or participate in Medicare.
    • Many of the other Democratic candidates running for president in 2020 are supporting a "Medicare for all" proposal instead.

    Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said he would support a health care system that allows Americans to participate in Medicare or keep their existing employer-based and private health insurance coverage.

    Backing the "public option" plan differentiates O'Rourke from a handful of the other Democratic presidential candidates and more liberal base, who have made a point of explicitly backing a "Medicare for All" style program.

    Read more: Beto O'Rourke announces massive $6.1 million fundraising haul in first day of campaign, dwarfing the rest of the 2020 field

    "Two extraordinary women with whom I served in Congress, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut have introduced a proposal called 'Medicare for America' that ensures that if you have employer-based insurance and if you like it, you keep it. Your doctors, your network, what works for you right now," O'Rourke said at an event at Penn State University on Tuesday. "If you don't have insurance or you don't like the insurance you already have, you enroll in Medicare."

    Put another way, the plan would move everyone who is on Medicaid, gets coverage through the Obamacare exchanges, or does not have insurance onto the government's Medicare program. Seniors currently on Medicare would continue to receive those benefits.

    In addition, Americans of any age would then be allowed to either receive insurance through their employer or opt into the government option.

    O'Rourke also said that such a proposal will come at a steep price, but noted he believes it is prudent in the long run.

    "It'll be measured in the trillions of dollars," he said. "It is not inexpensive, but as I made the point and the case earlier, it's a lot less expensive than taking care of people at end of life who have never been treated in the first place."

    During his unsuccessful Senate run in Texas during the 2018 midterm elections, O'Rourke told INSIDER his "number one campaign issue" was "universal health care."

    Other Democrats have coalesced around a 'Medicare for All' system

    Democratic candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris have back a more comprehensive overhaul of the US health care system.

    Medicare for All would include moving the health insurance market into a single-payer system where everyone received their coverage from the government program.

    Sanders is one of the most prominent backers of Medicare for All, leading the drafting of a bill in the Senate. While the Vermont senator has long been an advocate for the idea, many of the other presidential candidates have embraced some version of the plan.

    Harris came under fire for suggesting that an elimination of private insurance would be necessary in an ideal Medicare for all type system.

    "Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require," she said in a town hall interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. "Who of us has not had that situation where you’ve got to wait for approval, and the doctor says, well, I don’t know if your insurance company is going to cover this. Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on."

    Republicans scoffed at the idea of abolishing private health insurance and potential independent presidential candidate and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz panned it as "not American."

    "What’s next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?" he said.

    Medicare for All generally receives strong favorability, but support for the health care transformation plummets when poll respondents are told it would require dramatic tax increases, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    SEE ALSO: The 20 companies and groups that spend the most money to influence lawmakers

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'He is a racist. He is a conman.' Michael Cohen's most explosive claims about Trump in his blockbuster hearing

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  • Inside the marriage of Kellyanne and George Conway, who Ann Coulter introduced, are worth $39 million, and are increasingly at odds over Trump>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 6:02 PM:)

    kellyanne conway george

    • Kellyanne and George Conway have been married for 17 years and have four kids together.
    • Though they've spent years in prominent circles, the lawyer and former pollster shot to the top of the national political stage when Kellyanne became the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign.
    • But George's public hits on Trump, and vice versa, have painted a picture of a difficult marriage.

    Kellyanne and George Conway have been married for 17 years, have four kids together, and have risen to prominence on the national political stage in recent years.

    However, as captured in reports like a lengthy feature in the Washington Post, their relationship — from the outside, at least — appears to be under more stress than ever.

    Kellyanne, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign and now serves as his counselor, is one of Trump's fiercest and most vocal supporters. While George supported Trump at first, he now publicly trolls the president on Twitter.

    On Tuesday, Trump shot back, calling George "A total loser!" on Twitter.

    Here is an inside look at one of the most interesting marriages in Washington.

    SEE ALSO: Inside the marriage of Donald and Melania Trump, who broke up once before, reportedly sleep in different bedrooms, and are weathering rumors of his affairs

    DON'T MISS: 'I think it disrespects his wife': Kellyanne Conway finally reveals how she feels about her husband's fiery tweets about Trump

    After spotting the DC pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick on the cover of a magazine in the late 1990s, George called his friend Ann Coulter to introduce him to her.

    Source: Washington Post

    After Coulter introduced the two, Kellyanne and George began spending time together in The Hamptons and at baseball games. Kellyanne once said, "I find that his near-constant presence doesn’t annoy me."

    Source: Washington Post

    The two were married in 2001 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. It was reportedly a "decadent affair" — the cake was so big it had to be cut into pieces so it could fit in the door.

    Source: Washington Post

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • Cory Booker says ‘racists think' Trump is 'racist' as the president faces backlash over tepid response to New Zealand shooting>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 5:44 PM:)

    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) gives the keynote speech at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, U.S. March 3, 2019.  REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

    • Sen. Cory Booker on Monday said "racists think" President Donald Trump is a "racist" as the president faces criticism for not expressing concern about white nationalism following two terror shootings at mosques in New Zealand. 
    • "His language is causing pain and fear," Booker said of Trump. "The way he's talking is making people afraid."
    • Booker has avoided explicitly calling Trump a "racist," focusing more on combatting the president's policies. 

    Sen. Cory Booker, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in 2020, has been campaigning on a message of unity and has been less explicitly critical of President Donald Trump than some of the other candidates. 

    During an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday, Booker went after the president over his rhetoric on race as Trump faces criticism on his response to a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. But the New Jersey senator would not directly refer to Trump as a racist.

    "Racists think he's racist, and his language hurts people," Booker said of Trump.

    "His language is causing pain and fear," the presidential hopeful added. "The way he's talking is making people afraid."

    Read more: Trump makes no mention of terrorism or bigotry in tweet on New Zealand mosque shootings, as other world leaders decry an act of 'racist hatred'

    When asked whether he believes Trump is a racist in early February, Booker offered a similar response. "I don't know the heart of anybody," Booker said. "I'll leave that to the Lord ... I know there are a lot of people who profess the ideology of white supremacy that use his words." 

    Booker expanded on this in a subsequent interview with Yahoo News after facing criticism from some on the political for not explicitly calling Trump "racist." 

    "Donald Trump has been using race … as a way to divide Americans. He’s been attacking people. He’s been using racist policies and language. He’s been empowering hate," Booker said in early March. "It's deeply unfortunate that this is a man who … can't condemn Nazis … a guy who, literally, you see white supremacists using his language in their own materials."

    Other 2020 candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders have been more direct in their criticism of Trump, unabashedly referring to the president as "a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and a fraud."

    Read more: Trump says he doesn't see white nationalism as a rising threat around the world after New Zealand terror attack

    Booker, who if elected would be the first direct descendant of slaves to be president, is taking a more cautious tone along the campaign trail. The senator has contended he's "less concerned about how you label [Trump] than" he is about "protecting people that [Trump is] hurting and protecting against his racist and harmful policies."

    The senator's criticism of Trump on Monday occurred as Trump faces backlash for not being more outspoken in condemning white nationalism. The man who's claimed responsibility for the New Zealand massacre last week wrote a 74-page manifesto that praised Trump and espoused a white nationalist philosophy.

    Read more: Right-wing violence has 'accelerated' in the US since Trump took office

    Trump, who's already been repeatedly condemned over his rhetoric toward Muslims, in the wake of the shooting told reporters he did not think white nationalism is on the rise. But data from the FBI as well as independent research suggests far-right violence, particularly white nationalism, is indeed increasing

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What happens when the president declares a national emergency

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  • Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and anonymous users who made fun of him for $250 million>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 4:37 PM:)

    devin nunes

    • Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter as well as several individuals for the mockery he received on the platform.
    • He claims the tweets made him suffer $250 million in damages and interfered with his 2018 congressional election.
    • Two of the anonymous accounts he's suing are "Devin Nunes' Mom" and "Devin Nunes' cow," which "maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes' character."
    • By filing the lawsuit, Nunes has drawn attention to the once-relatively-obscure accounts that insulted him. The "Devin Nunes' cow" account increased its followers by a hundred-fold.
    • Nunes also alleges that Twitter harbors bias against conservatives, citing an unsubstantiated "shadow ban" conspiracy theory.

    California Rep. Devin Nunes is taking a new approach to attacking his critics who make fun of him with anonymous Twitter accounts: He's suing them.

    Nunes's lawsuit, filed in a Virginia state court Monday, asks for at least $250 million in damages from Twitter, the Republican communications strategist Elizabeth Mair, and her company. The lawsuit is also filed against the Twitter accounts "'Devin Nunes' Mom' (@DevinNunesMom) and 'Devin Nunes' cow' (@DevinCow)."

    Nunes, a Republican, says those individuals defamed him and that Twitter allowed it to happen because it harbors a political bias against conservatives.

    Much of the 40-page lawsuit, which demands a jury trial, focuses on the @DevinNunesMom account, which was suspended before the lawsuit was filed. It lists a series of attacks on Nunes's personal life, support for President Donald Trump, and attack on his right-wing policies. As the chair of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee before the midterms, Nunes stalled the committee's investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    "In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes' Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes' character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman," the lawsuit reads.

    Several pages of the suit are devoted to a long list of insults @DevinNunesMom hurled at Nunes. Here are some of the more colorful accusations, according to the lawsuit:

    • "Devin Nunes' Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl."
    • "Falsely stated that Nunes would probably join the 'Proud Boys' if it weren’t for that unfortunate 'no masturbating' rule"
    • "Disparagingly called him a 'presidential fluffer and swamp rat.'"
    • "Falsely stated that Nunes had brought 'shame' to his family."
    • "Repeatedly accused Nunes of the crime of treason, compared him to Benedict Arnold, and called him a 'traitor,' 'treasonous s---bag,' a 'treasonous Putin shill,' working for the 'Kremlin'
    • "Falsely accused Nunes of being part of the President’s 'taint' team."
    • "Falsely accused Nunes of 'secretly hat[ing] the people he’s supposed to serve.'"
    • "Falsely accused Nunes of being a 'lying piece of s---.'"
    • "Stated 'I don’t know about Baby Hitler, but would sure-as-s--- abort baby Devin.'"
    • "Falsely claimed that Nunes would 'probably see an indictment before 2020.'"
    • "And even falsely stated that Nunes has 'herp-face.'"

    Some of the tweets, as the lawsuit pointed out, depicted "depicted Nunes engaged in sexual acts with the President." One of them, which was published in the lawsuit, showed Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump, and Nunes in a "human centipede"-type situation.

    devin nunes lawsuit human centipede twitter mom 

    The lawsuit says that Mair and her company, Mair Strategies LLC., was involved in the effort, which may have also included the accounts Fire Devin Nunes (@FireDevinNunes) and Devin Nunes' Grapes (@DevinGrapes).

    Read more: 21-year-old conservative activist Jacob Wohl is banned from Twitter — here's everything you need to know about him

    Mair, a political strategist who works on Republican campaigns, derided Nunes on her own personal Twitter feed. The lawsuits says she spread false stories and that, based on the substance of the tweets and her interaction with them, she was personally involved with the @DevinNunesMom and @DevinNunescow Twitter accounts.

    On her Twitter account, Mair said she would not comment on the lawsuit, but she was raising money to defend herself.

    A representative for Twitter declined to comment on the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit has only drawn more attention to the social media attacks against Nunes

    Nunes's lawsuit says the Twitter attacks against him caused him emotional distress — "an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life," as the lawsuit describes it — and damaged his standing in his congressional district to the tune of $250 million. While he previously won elections in his district by wide margins, he received only 52% of the vote in the 2018 midterm election.

    But the lawsuit cites no evidence that the Twitter accounts were widely read. In fact, Nunes almost certainly drew attention to them by including them in his lawsuit.

    devin nunes elevator

    The @DevinNunesMom account, according to the social media analytics site SocialBlade, had around 15,000 followers before it was suspended. The @DevinNunescow account had just 1,204 followers at the time of the lawsuit, the lawsuit says.

    But since Nunes filed his lawsuit Monday, it has gone viral. The @DevinNunescow account now has around 100,000 followers. And now media reports and fresh social media attention — including from Trump himself — are drawing more attention.

    Rep. Devin Nunes Files $250M Defamation Lawsuit Against Twitter, Two Anonymous Twitter Accounts https://t.co/fT9ZXdWg7z via @thedailybeast

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019

    professor on the first day of law school: You are here to learn the majesty of the constitution and the great tradition of law

    me, several years later: hahaha, look at this lawsuit with an exhibit depicting a nunez-trump-putin human centipede

    — sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) March 18, 2019

    Nunes got his mom to file a complaint with Twitter because he was upset about a parody account making fun of him and then he sued Twitter in part because of the parody account? Am I reading that right? https://t.co/3EyqWxnX3r

    — Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) March 19, 2019

    To recap: Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is suing Twitter because a fake cow was mean to him on the internet. (He's also suing the fake cow.)

    — Brad Heath (@bradheath) March 19, 2019

    Last Congress, Devin Nunes cosponsored a bill called the “Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act”https://t.co/muQ0FhmUO7

    — Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 19, 2019


    On Twitter,  @DevinNunescow has continued to mock Nunes.

    "I'm not quitting my day job," it tweeted.

    The lawsuit pushes the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that Twitter 'shadow bans' conservatives

    Part of the allegations against Twitter is that the company has a political bias against conservative viewpoints and conducts "explicit censorship of viewpoints with which it disagrees," which it expresses with a "shadow ban."

    There's no evidence this is true.

    A "shadow ban" is understood to mean that a person's account appears to function normally, even though their posts are rendered undiscoverable. On platforms like Reddit, it's normally used to stop spam accounts from disrupting the platform while slowing down the spammer's ability to make new accounts to circumvent the ban.

    The conservative conspiracy theory, based in part from a July Vice article, which the lawsuit cites, is a bit different: It's that some accounts are slightly harder to find if you search for them in Twitter's search box.

    The day the Vice article was published, Twitter said it issued a fix for that problem and later said that accounts run by Democrats were affected as well.

    jack dorsey

    Nonetheless, the conspiracy theory that Twitter is "shadow-banning" conservatives is pervasive, and has been spread by Trump, along with Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr., Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

    The lawsuit claims that the alleged "shadow ban" had an effect on the midterm elections (an election Nunes won), and disrupted Nunes's congressional work.

    "The shadow-banning was intentional," the lawsuit says. "It was calculated to interfere with and influence the federal election and interfere with Nunes' ongoing investigation as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Twitter's actions affected the election results."

    devin nunes

    The lawsuit also says that Twitter allows the @DevinNunesMom and @DevinNunescow accounts to exist because of its alleged political bias.

    "Twitter, by its actions, intended to generate and proliferate the false and defamatory statements about [Nunes] in order to influence the outcome of the 2018 Congressional election," the lawsuit says. It also claims Twitter wanted to "intimidate [Nunes] and interfere with his important investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election."

    If anything — at least with Trump — Twitter appears to flout its own rules to keep him on the platform.

    On Twitter, Trump has called to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, an apparent violation of Twitter's rules against targeting religious groups. He's also threatened nuclear war with North Korea and Iran, which seem to violate the platform's rules against threats of violence.

    Twitter has resisted calls to ban the president. And in January 2018, the company said it carved out exceptions for world leaders like Trump.

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  • Russia has banned fake news, while also being one of the world's prime exporters of fake news>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 4:30 PM:)

    Vladimir Putin

    • Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a new law that heavily fines those who spread those who spread what the state decides is fake news.
    • Russia is one of the world's largest sources of fake news, and it hosts campaigns that aim to spread misinformation around the world.
    • With this new law, Russia can ban information that it decides is false within its own borders while spreading objective falsehoods around the globe.
    • The US and the EU accuse Russia of spreading misinformation, and Facebook has said many of the accounts spreading disinformation on its network come from Russia.

    Russia has passed a law banning the spread of fake news — even though the country has been linked to spreading more fake news abroad than anywhere else.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law on Monday that introduces fines for people who spread what the what deems to be inaccurate information, if the information leads to a "mass violation of public order."

    These fines can be up to 400,000 rubles ($6,100), and the state can also block websites that don't take down information that it says is false.

    Read more: A Russian 'troll slayer' went undercover at a troll factory and found that hundreds of Russians were working as paid trolls in rotating shifts

    The law highlights the discrepancy between Putin's domestic policies and an ongoing, well-documented effort from Russia to spread fake news around the world.

    Vladimir Putin

    Social media companies have detected Russia-based efforts to spread misinformation, while other governments and rights groups have accused the state itself of being behind these kinds of campaigns.

    US intelligence officials believe Russia used the spread of false information as a tactic to support Donald Trump's presidential election campaign 2016, though the Russian government denies it.

    The European Union has launched a "war against disinformation" originating in Russia, while Sky News reported that the UK is investigating a possible cyber attack by the Russian military on a British institute dedicated to countering Russian disinformation.

    Andrus Ansip, the vice-president of the European Commission, said in December 2018 that there is "strong evidence pointing to Russia as the primary source of disinformation in Europe."

    Read more: Russia has given up on outright fake news for meddling in midterms, experts say — but is using more subtle techniques instead

    "Disinformation is part of Russian military doctrine and its strategy to divide and weaken the west. Russia spends €1.1bn a year on pro-Kremlin media," he said.

    A notorious Russian "troll factory" had a $1.25 million budget in the run-up to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, according to charges filed by the Department of Justice.

    And a Buzzfeed News investigation found that the Russian government secretly funded a group news websites that appeared to be independent but instead wrote stories dictated by the Kremlin.

    The network, called BALTNEWS, provided heavily-slanted coverage of the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — which experts say was designed to turn opinion in those countries to Russia's favor.

    A leading communications expert in Estonia said the sites constitute "systemic information-related activities on foreign territory. In other words — information warfare."

    The websites covered stories like a US Navy warship sailing in the Black Sea, sanctions against Russia, and tensions in the EU and the US. 

    Mark Zuckerberg question mark

    Facebook has been removing Russia-based accounts for spreading disinformation, and said that it suspects some have ties to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA).

    In January 2019 alone, Facebook removed more than 500 pages, accounts, and ads across Facebook and its sister network Instagram that were connected to Russia and involved in "inauthentic" behaviour.

    It found that employees of Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik created pages that appeared to be independent news sites and general interest pages, without disclosing their links to the Kremlin.

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  • The 'Brazilian Donald Trump,' Jair Bolsonaro, is visiting the White House. He was elected president despite saying he couldn't love a gay son and that a colleague was too 'ugly' to be raped>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 4:16 PM:)

    Jair Bolsonaro

    • Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician criticized for at-times misogynistic, homophobic, and militaristic views, was elected president of Brazil in October.
    • Bolsonaro was at the White House on Tuesday. 
    • He's been dubbed the "Brazilian Donald Trump" and has vowed to make Brazil "great" again. 

    Jair Bolsonaro, an incendiary far-right politician criticized for at-times misogynistic, homophobic, and militaristic views, visited with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. 

    Ahead of his visit with Trump, the controversial Brazilian leader praised the president's plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. 

    "We do agree with President Trump’s decision or proposal on the wall," Bolsonaro told Fox News on Monday night. "The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions. They do not intend to do the best or do good to the US people."

    Bolsonaro and Trump have repeatedly praised one another and their friendship appears to be growing. 

    "I'm willing to open my heart up to him and do whatever is good, to the benefit of both the Brazilian and the American people," Bolsonaro said in the Fox News interview. 

    'The Brazilian Donald Trump'

    Bolsonaro, a member of the Social Liberal Party who's been dubbed the "Brazilian Donald Trump," won roughly 46% of the vote in the first round of Brazil's presidential election in September. He was only a few percentage points shy of winning the outright majority necessary to become the next president.

    But the far-right politician ultimately defeated the Workers Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, winning 55.2% of the votes in October's run-off election and securing his position as the next leader of South America's largest economy. 

    "We cannot continue flirting with socialism, communism, populism and leftist extremism ... We are going to change the destiny of Brazil," Bolsonaro said in his acceptance speech.

    In a January speech in New Orleans, Louisiana, Trump alluded to the comparisons that have been made between him and Brazil's new leader. 

    "They say he's the Donald Trump of South America. Do you believe that? And he's happy with that," Trump said at the time. "If he wasn't, I wouldn't like the country so much."

    Who is Jair Bolsonaro?

    Bolsonaro, a former army captain who's served as a congressman for over 20 years, has a long history of courting controversy and is a deeply divisive figure in Brazilian politics. 

    He's frequently come under fire for controversial remarks about gay people, women, and minorities:

    • In 2011, for example, Bolsonaro told Playboy magazine he would "be incapable of loving a homosexual son."
    • "I won’t be a hypocrite: I prefer a son to die in an accident than show up with a mustachioed guy. He’d be dead to me anyway," Bolsonaro said.
    • He was also criticized in 2014 after suggesting a female colleague in congress was too ugly to be raped.
    • "She doesn’t deserve to be raped, because she’s very ugly," Bolsonaro said at the time. "She’s not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her because she doesn’t deserve it."
    • Bolsonaro also once described Afro-Brazilians as lazy and fat, and he has called refugees from Haiti, Africa, and the Middle East as the "scum of humanity."
    • And back in the early 1990s, he suggested he was in favor of a dictatorship. 
    • Years later, in 2015 he defended the brutal dictatorship that presided over Brazil from 1964 to 1985, which was responsible for numerous atrocities.
    • More recently, Bolsonaro in September suggested his political opponents should be shot. The same week, Bolsonaro was stabbed along the campaign trail, an incident that saw his poll numbers rise

    POLITICIAN STABBED: Right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen at a rally today – with the suspect taken into custody on the scene, badly beaten by the politician’s supporters, and the candidate in surgery. @DavidMuir reports. pic.twitter.com/CkxjtSVoAS

    — World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) September 7, 2018

    Last fall, Bolsonaro refused to apologize for his controversial rhetoric and said he can't just become the "peace and love candidate."

    Bolsonaro's Trump-like rhetoric has made him popular among many Brazilians 

    Rampant corruption, an ongoing recession, and rising rates of violent crime have contributed to some Brazilians embracing Bolsonaro and his hardline stances on an array of issues. 

    Much like Trump in the US, Bolsonaro has painted a picture of Brazil as a nation in decline. He has pledged to make the largest and most powerful country in South America "great" again by ridding its politics of corruption.

    In a live broadcast on Facebook earlier this month, Bolsonaro said, "Let's make Brazil Great! Let's be proud of our homeland once again!" The presidential hopeful's bombastic use of social media is also part of the reason he's been compared to Trump. 

    To restore law and order, Bolsonaro has advocated for loosening gun laws and called for bringing back the death penalty. 

    He's pushed against environmental regulations, and like Trump is critical of the landmark Paris climate accord. 

    Bolsonaro has also called for lowering taxes and privatizing state companies. 

    In a country desperate for change, many Brazilians are seemingly attracted to Bolsonaro's radical platform and are unfazed by his controversial rhetoric. 

    As Bolsonaro's campaign has gained steam many have compared him to Trump, including his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro. If his father wins, "It’s going to be beautiful," Eduardo said.

    "It will be just like Trump in the United States," he said at a recent rally.

    But, like Trump, Bolsonaro continues to be a polarizing figure.

    In late September, thousands upon thousands of women marched in protest of Bolsonaro under the slogan #EleNao, which means "Not Him." The march was similar to the anti-Trump "Women's March" held in the US.

    SEE ALSO: A look at the campaign proposals made by Brazil's Bolsonaro

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  • Trump's border wall may strip money from a $65 million water treatment plant at a Marine Corps base with a history of contaminated water>
    (Politics - March 19 2019 - 4:10 PM:)

    Marine Corps

    • The Defense Department published a list of hundreds of military projects that may lose funding to pay for President Trump's border barrier. It added that "no military housing, barracks or dormitory projects will be impacted" by the diverted funding.
    • The list includes a $65 million water treatment plant at Hadnot Point in Camp Lejeune.
    • Camp Lejeune has been embroiled in controversy for the revelations that as many as 900,000 troops and family members stationed at the base were exposed to contaminated water between 1953 and 1987.

    President Donald Trump's plans for the US-Mexico border barrier may tap into unawarded funds that could have gone towards a water treatment plant at Camp Lejeune, a base near North Carolina's coast that struggled with contaminated water for decades, according to a government analysis.

    Over $65 million was tentatively allocated for the water treatment plant at Hadnot Point, a section of the military base that includes a medical clinic and various third-party stores, the Defense Department said in its proposal.

    The project is expected to replace a water treatment plant with a 8-million-gallon-per-day water treatment facility that complies with safety regulations, according to US Navy budget estimates sent to Congress in 2017.

    "This facility is required to provide an adequate and environmentally compliant supply of potable water to meet the domestic, industrial, and fire protection requirements of Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune," the Navy said.

    The plan was proposed after the Hadnot Point community was found to have increased its water usage, which comes from the same water system used for Camp Lejeune. The increased water usage contributed towards a contamination comprised of salt water that "cannot be reversed," according to the Navy.

    "The Marine Corps will face certain high risk liabilities with continued use of antiquated water treatment plant technology," the Navy warned.

    The Navy did propose other alternatives to a new water treatment plant, including repairs to its older system and individual upgrades, but deemed it was more cost-effective to construct a new facility.

    "Camp Lejeune will continue to face rising maintenance and operational costs necessary to run the antiquated water treatment plants," the Navy said in its proposal.

    "Environmental compliance will be compromised as it becomes more difficult to maintain the water quality required to comply with present and future Safe Drinking Water Act regulations."


    It is unclear why, despite the initial request from the Navy, that funding for the project was shelved. Camp Lejeune was one of the military installations hit by Hurricane Florence in 2018, and the cost to replace some of its buildings was estimated to be around $3.6 billion.

    The base was previously embroiled in controversy when up to 900,000 service members and families stationed at the base were found to have been exposed to contaminated water between 1953 and 1987, the Associated Press reported.

    "If you served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune ..., you may have had contact with contaminants in the drinking water there," the Department of Veterans Affairs says on its website. "Scientific and medical evidence has shown an association between exposure to these contaminants during military service and development of certain diseases later on."

    Former Camp Lejeune service members who are later diagnosed with various diseases — including leukemia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple myeloma — may be eligible for disability benefits.

    In January, the Navy denied over 4,400 claims worth an estimated $963 billion. Defense officials cited several legal statutes for their decision, including a 10-year statute of limitations and a Supreme Court ruling that relieves the US of liability if service members are injured on duty.

    The water contamination scandal has since been engrained in the military's culture, which may raise the project's necessity in light of potential budget cuts.

    "The optics of deferring this project could likely be a public relations disaster not just for the Marine Corps, but the Defense Department in general because of the past history at Camp Lejeune and water contamination," Dan Grazier, a military fellow at Project on Government Oversight, said to INSIDER.

    Donald Trump Army West Point

    In declaring his national emergency, Trump would divert $3.6 billion from unused military projects towards funding for the controversial border barrier. Trump justified the decision by claiming the US was being flooded "with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs" across the southern border.

    After Democrats and 12 Republicans passed a resolution opposing him in the Senate, Trump used his first presidential veto to force the proposal forward last week. The House and the Senate are likely to fall short of the required two-thirds majorities to override his veto.

    The Defense Department made clear that its list of project affected was not final. It added that "no military housing, barracks, or dormitory projects will be impacted" by the diverted funding.

    But Democratic lawmakers voiced concerns over the possibility and railed against what some view as a "medieval vanity project."

    "President Trump is putting his border wall ahead of the safety of our troops," Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said in a statement to INSIDER. "The projects that could lose funding include military training centers in Virginia, a plant to prevent water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and a cybersecurity facility in Georgia."

    "I hope my colleagues in Congress will take a serious look at the projects that support our military in their own states and then vote to override the President’s veto," Kaine said.

    "What President Trump is doing is a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure," Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, added in a statement.

    SEE ALSO: Trump was reportedly annoyed by a trio of Republican senators who interrupted his dinner to discuss the national-emergency declaration

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