Electronics

Manafort sues DOJ, Mueller over Russia probe authority – CNN

Manafort sues DOJ, Mueller over Russia probe authority – CNN

The suit brought Wednesday in US District Court in Washington where Manafort and another former Trump campaign aide are charged, challenges Mueller’s decision to charge Manafort with alleged crimes that they say have nothing to do with the 2016 campaign, but rather relate to lucrative lobbying work Manafort and his deputy did for a former Russia-friendly government in Ukraine. That work ended in 2014, the suit says. Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates deny the allegations in the charges.
The legal action represents a new tack in a broader effort by supporters of the President to push back on the special counsel. Some Republicans have begun publicly calling for Mueller’s probe to be shut down. Manafort’s attorneys have echoed the President’s criticism that Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is pursuing crimes that never happened.
The Manafort lawsuit alleges Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller have unlawfully exceeded the authorities allowed under the law governing special counsel appointments. The lawsuit contends that the order Rosenstein signed to appoint Mueller “exceeds the scope of Mr. Rosenstein’s authority to appoint special counsel as well as specific restrictions on the scope of such appointments.”
A DOJ spokesperson responded with a statement, saying: “The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants.”
The lawsuit’s focus is on a part of the Rosenstein order that says that Mueller may investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” The Manafort lawyers say that goes beyond what the law allows Rosenstein to empower Mueller to do.
The Rosenstein order gives Mueller “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote from the specific matter identified as the subject of the appointment order,” the lawsuit says.
Manafort and Gates face a total of 12 criminal charges related to money laundering and failure to file federal disclosures. Both Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear again before the judge in the criminal case on January 16.

Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 20:12:43 +0000

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Major security flaw found in Intel processors

Major security flaw found in Intel processors

Developers are working to fix a major security hole that’s been found within Intel chips made in the last decade, according to reports.

The security flaw has been found in virtually all Intel processors and will require fixes within Windows, macOS and Linux.

While specific details of the flaw have yet to be made public it is said to be a significant security hole affecting millions of computers. Patches are already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows, although they are expected to slow down computers making some actions up to around 30% slower.

The details of the fixes being developed suggest that the issue centres on the accessing of secure parts of a computer’s memory by regular programs. It is feared that the security flaw within the processors could be used to access passwords, login details and protected information on the computer.

The fixes involve moving the memory used by the core of the computer’s operating system, away from that used by normal programs so that they cannot be manipulated to exploit the hole and gain access to the protected kernel memory.

The security flaw is also thought to affect cloud servers, with Amazon, Microsoft and Google all expected to have to fix the bug with similar performance-reducing patches.

How serious this flaw is yet to be disclosed publicly but it would appear that the various operating system developers are viewing it as a serious problem that cannot be addressed by patching with a small update.

Further details are expected to be released by the end of the week.

Author
Neil Tyler

Published at

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Immigration, Infrastructure And Iran: The President's Plans For 2018 – NPR

Immigration, Infrastructure And Iran: The President's Plans For 2018 – NPR

On the domestic front in 2018, President Trump is expected to focus on immigration, infrastructure, welfare and health care.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

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Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate is back on Wednesday, and President Trump made his way back to Washington on Monday after laying fairly low to end the year in Palm Beach, Fla., at his personal resort.

His first year was a mixed bag of legislative accomplishments (tax overhaul) and failures (health care); the book is still out on his foreign policy posture; and the Russia probe continues.

So what should we expect in 2018? There are four areas of domestic policy the president is particularly focused on, according to the White House — immigration, infrastructure, welfare and health care.

“I would expect to see those four areas, as well as national security, which never goes away,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, per USA Today.

More pressingly, there’s a Jan. 19 deadline to pass yet another spending bill to keep the lights on in the government.

Here’s a look at some of those key priority areas:

National security

The president’s team would make the case that the U.S. is safer now and that ISIS is on the run. But there have been lone-wolf attacks domestically on this president’s watch, including the truck attack in New York that killed eight people and another man who attempted to blow himself up in the New York subway, but killed no one.

Attacks like this have prompted the president to move to curtail the immigration system further. His critics argue that emboldens recruitment for those trying to pull off or inspire these kinds of attacks. But that will remain an area of political tension.

Iran

The president has tweeted support for protests against the current Iranian regime, while also opposing (yet not completely ripping up) the Iranian nuclear deal.

People gather to protest over the high cost of living in Tehran, Iran, on Thursday.

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At least 21 have been reported dead in Iran, as the regime has moved against the protesters. But it’s still unclear what this president wants to do tangibly to affect change. Vice President Pence has brought up the difference between past administrations’ postures, but remember, back in 2009 when protests also cropped up, it was a very different kind of Iranian leadership that then-President Barack Obama was dealing with. Now, there is a more pragmatic figure in President Hassan Rouhani than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So what would change in Iran actually bring?

What’s more, Trump’s stance on the uprising is more in line with an interventionist approach, which is contradictory to his more isolationist America First policy. So there is a question when it comes to the Trump Doctrine: When does the United States intervene and when does it not? What’s the trigger to say, OK, this is where the United States gets involved?

North Korea

Anyone who thought the North Korean leader would be cowed by a more saber-rattling U.S. posture was mistaken. Kim Jong Un took to state airwaves during the New Year’s holiday weekend to tout that his country had made progress as a nuclear power — and that he has a button to launch attacks on his desk.

People watch a broadcast showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday.

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

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Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

The White House says it remains focused on the “denuclearization” of North Korea. But the president also tweeted criticism of China, a key player in achieving that goal. And, ironically, it is China, which is stepping forward as more of a world leader as the United States has receded, as some see it, under Trump.

China

The view from China of Trump? Yan Xuetong, dean of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations, told The New Yorker:

“American leadership has already dramatically declined in the past ten months. In 1991, when Bush, Sr., launched the war against Iraq, it got thirty-four countries to join the war effort. This time, if Trump launched a war against anyone, I doubt he would get support from even five countries. …

“For Chinese leaders, Yan said, ‘Trump is the biggest strategic opportunity.’ [New Yorker reporter Evan Osnos] asked Yan how long he thought the opportunity would last. ‘As long as Trump stays in power,’ he replied.”

So, for as much as Trump might think President Xi likes him (“He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China”), Xi might have a different reason for feeling that way than Trump thinks.

Immigration

As noted, for Trump, immigration is tied to national security. So don’t expect him to pull back on his push to curtail various programs and make the U.S. immigration system more merit-based.

Democrats, though, feel like they have leverage in this election year on the issue, especially since there is generally bipartisan support for a DREAM Act or path to legalization if not citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally who haven’t committed crimes. (The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for people brought to the United States as children.)

Trump said in September that he was giving Congress six months to address DACA, the executive action implemented by former President Obama on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That means Congress has until March to do something. DACA allowed people brought to the country as children to avoid deportation. Obama signed the executive order after Congress failed to pass a bipartisan comprehensive immigration overhaul.

“We think we have to have a DACA solution,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Nov. 30.

We’ll see shortly if that’s true or what that is. Still, Trump’s posture doesn’t appear to be one in which a deal has been made. In fact, he tweeted Friday that any DACA deal must include the building of a wall with Mexico, an end to “chain migration” and ending the visa lottery system.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is always the thing dangled as the potential big area of bipartisanship. Both parties say they want it, and yet nothing has gotten done on it in the past decade.

Why? The question of how to pay for it.

Yet, Trump teased that “maybe we start with infrastructure” in the new year.

“Infrastructure is by far the easiest,” the president said Dec. 22 during the bill signing for the tax overhaul. “People want it — Republicans and Democrats. We’re going to have tremendous Democrat support on infrastructure as you know. I could’ve started with infrastructure — I actually wanted to save the easy one for the one down the road. So we’ll be having that done pretty quickly.”

Having it “done pretty quickly” could be an overstatement. Republicans are going to need 60 votes, which now means nine Democrats with Democrat Doug Jones sworn in Wednesday.

Welfare, entitlements and health care

House Speaker Ryan, R-Wis., has indicated he’d like to target welfare and entitlements, but Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are not on board with all that Ryan wants to do.

Audree, 2, plays while Samantha Watson, her mother, cleans the kitchen. Watson was a single mother and nursing student received benefits from a federal welfare program called TANF.

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Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The Trump administration is reviewing the programs, and the White House is preparing a January executive order related to welfare, according to Politico. NPR’s Mara Liasson reports the president “wants to keep his promise not to touch the big, middle-class entitlements — Medicare and Social Security — but he is interested in reforming means-tested programs that target lower-income Americans.”

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, affects about a million and a half families. And, Liasson reports:

“White House aides say they are now looking at a number of additional changes, including tighter work requirements and drug-testing rules for food stamps, Medicaid and housing assistance. Those changes may not save much money the way changes in the big middle-class entitlements like Medicare or Social Security might. But it will help the president highlight an issue that seems to motivate his base in a year when getting Republican voters excited is the No. 1 goal.”

The Senate looks less-than enthused to change any of the big entitlements, too. McConnell, who will be clinging to an even narrower 51-49 majority in 2018, told Axios he “would not expect to see” the Senate work on making changes to those programs without Democrats.

“I think entitlement changes, to be sustained, almost always have to be bipartisan,” McConnell told NPR. “The House may have a different agenda. If our Democratic friends in the Senate want to join us to tackle any kind of entitlement reform, I’d be happy to take a look at it.”

Translation: He’s not about to walk the plank without holding hands with Democrats — and Democrats aren’t going anywhere near the edge of that ship.

It’s the same story when it comes to health care.

“Well, we obviously were unable to completely repeal and replace with a 52-48 Senate,” McConnell told NPR. “We’ll have to take a look at what that looks like with a 51-49 Senate. But I think we’ll probably move on to other issues.”

Does Ryan resign?

So if a tax overhaul has passed — and Ryan can’t get his next agenda on entitlements, welfare or health care through the Senate, it does raise the question — does he think about stepping aside in the next few months or after the election?

Remember, this is not a job he wanted. He was seen as the only one who could get the votes to become speaker after John Boehner resigned. It’s certainly been rumored that Ryan is considering resigning — and it makes some sense. At this point, it’s just speculation, but worth watching.

“I ain’t goin’ anywhere,” Ryan told reporters after a Politico piece speculating on his resignation came out Dec. 14.

His office added, “This is pure speculation.” Spokeswoman AshLee Strong said, “As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.”

Boehner’s spokespeople denied he was leaving up until right before he did.

Midterms will shape the year

Not much traditionally gets done in midterm years, McConnell is skittish about diving into the president’s thornier priorities, and Democrats feel they have some leverage now on things like immigration and infrastructure.

So don’t expect them to jump at the chance to work with this president, in this election year, without major concessions.

Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:01:50 +0000

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Silicon anode project seeks to extend EV range

Silicon anode project seeks to extend EV range

A £7million award from Innovate UK as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge is funding a project to develop significantly better materials for Li-ion batteries. The work, featuring silicon anode pioneer Nexeon, is described as an essential step to enabling electric vehicles (EVs) to have a range of more than 400 miles.

The SUNRISE project is looking to develop better battery materials based on silicon as a replacement for carbon in the cell anode, and to optimise cell designs for automotive applications.

Nexeon will lead the silicon material development and scale-up stages of the project, while polymer specialist Synthomer will lead the development of a next generation polymer binder optimised to work with silicon and to ensure anode/binder cohesion during a lifetime of charges. Meanwhile, Nexeon and UCL will lead the work on material characterisation and cell performance.

“The biggest problems facing EVs – range anxiety, cost, charge time or charging station availability – are almost all related to limitations of the batteries,” said Nexeon’s CEO Dr Scott Brown. “Silicon anodes are now well established on the technology road maps of major automotive OEMs and cell makers, and Nexeon has received support from UK and global OEMs, several of whom will be involved in this project as it develops.”

Silicon is being adopted as a partial replacement for carbon in battery anodes, typically up to a level of 10%, but problems caused by expansion during charging and discharging remain issues. SUNRISE is said to address the silicon expansion and binder system issues and to allow more silicon to be used. This latter feature will increase the cell’s energy density. Meanwhile, silicon anode materials with a polymer binder can be used as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for current graphite anode systems.

The Faraday Battery Challenge, announced in July 2017, will see £246m invested over four years to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for EVs.

Author
Graham Pitcher

Published at

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Snowstorm heading for NJ could explode into 'bomb cyclone' over East Coast – NJ.com

Snowstorm heading for NJ could explode into 'bomb cyclone' over East Coast – NJ.com

The key ingredients for a blockbuster snowstorm on Thursday appear to be locked in: Cold air already in place, and lots of moisture on the way.

However, one huge factor that remains uncertain is the exact track of the storm system that will move up the Atlantic coast Wednesday and intensify as it moves toward Cape Cod on Thursday. The precise track will mean the difference between a minor nuisance snow event or a potentially sizable snowstorm for New Jersey and New York City.

Weather forecasters say if the center of this storm system moves far offshore, this storm will be a bust for most of the Garden State and the Big Apple. However, if the center tracks closer to the Atlantic coast, the storm has the potential to dump as much as 10 to 12 inches of snow over many parts of our region.

During the past two days, computer guidance models have been very inconsistent on where the storm is most likely to end up. That’s why many snowfall projections have ranged anywhere from 1 to 6 inches, and some forecasters have been predicting snowfall totals as high as a half foot to a foot.

“It’s a game of inches,” said Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s regional forecast office in New Jersey. “How close (the center of the storm gets to the coast) makes a big difference. If it just wobbles thirty miles to the west, then we could see bigger impacts farther west.”

Published at Tue, 02 Jan 2018 22:53:57 +0000

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North Korea to open hotline with South to discuss Winter Olympics – CNN

North Korea to open hotline with South to discuss Winter Olympics – CNN

The country’s leader Kim Jong Un gave the order to open the line at 3.00 p.m local time (1:30 a.m. ET) to begin discussions on sending a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.
It comes just one day after South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for swift measures to smooth North Korea’s participation in the Games.
Kim had said in his New Year’s message that discussions should start “as soon as possible” about sending a North Korean sporting delegation.
In the same address, the North Korean leader also boasted about having a nuclear button on his desk. US President Donald Trump appeared to inflame tensions Tuesday by tweeting that he had a “bigger,” “more powerful” nuclear button than Kim’s.
A South Korean ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday that North Korean officials hadn’t answered the South’s calls on a special direct hotline, positioned in the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, since February 2016 when the South suspended operations at the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Moon’s office welcomed the gesture Wednesday and expressed optimism that the Olympic talks would be extended.
“The restoration of the communication channels means a lot. It is assessed that (we) are headed to setting up a structure through which contacts can be made on a regular basis,” said Presidential press secretary, Yoon Young-chan.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification also issued a statement welcoming the North’s response.
“Further procedures regarding inter-Korean government talks proposed yesterday will be discussed through the communications channel,” the statement said.

Published at Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:38:24 +0000

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Iran's Supreme Leader blames 'enemies' for protests, death toll hits 21 – CNN

Iran's Supreme Leader blames 'enemies' for protests, death toll hits 21 – CNN

In his first remarks since the demonstrations erupted last Thursday, Khamenei accused the nation’s enemies of “joining forces” against Iran and blamed them for the violence in recent days.
“The enemy is waiting for an opportunity, for a flaw, through which they can enter. Look at these events over the last few days. All those who are against the Islamic Republic, those who have money, those who have the politics, those who have the weapons, those who have the intelligence, they have all joined forces in order to create problems for the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution,” he said.
Khamenei delivered a statement in Tehran on Tuesday.
“God willing I have got things to say to my dear people in due course. The animosity is there, but what can prevent this animosity is the spirit of bravery, the spirit of sacrifice and the spirit of faith, a good example of which was your children.”
Khamenei did not make clear exactly who he was referring to, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier slammed US President Donald Trump for tweeting his support for the protesters on Monday.
On Tuesday, Trump wrote another tweet, slamming the Iranian government as “brutal and corrupt.”
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The US is watching!”
A demonstration at the University of Tehran on Saturday
Other Iranian officials had blamed “foreign agents” and an online “proxy war” waged by the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia for the violence.
Khamenei’s remarks followed more deadly violence on Monday, in which nine people were killed, including seven protesters, a member of a pro-government militia and a policeman. Twelve others were killed over the weekend as the protests intensified.
The protests have become the biggest challenge to the government’s authority since mass demonstrations in 2009. Around 450 people have been arrested over the past three days, according to state media.

Protesters storm police station, report says

On Monday, six protestors were killed in the central city of Qahdarijan when demonstrators stormed a police station and attempted to take guns from authorities, state media reported.
A member of the Basij, a pro-government militia, was killed in south Tehran. And a policeman in Najafabad was killed when a protester shot at officers with a hunting rifle, according to state media. Three other officers were wounded.
Among the 12 people killed over the weekend were a man and his young son, when a fire truck hijacked by protesters ran them down on a street in western Iran’s Dorud, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Here's why the Iran protests are significant
Video images shared on social media from central Tuyserkan on Sunday showed protesters throwing chairs, tables and other objects in reach at riot police, forcing the outnumbered officers to retreat. Six protesters were shot dead in the unrest there, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The rallies began Thursday over the country’s stagnant economy and rising living costs, but they developed into a broader outcry against the government and intensified over the weekend.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to downplay the significance of the protests, which have spread beyond the capital of Tehran to at least 18 cities.
“Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament Monday.
But other officials have warned of strict crackdowns, and the mass arrests show that the country is concerned by spreading dissent.
Ali Asghar Nasser-Bakht, Tehran’s Deputy Governor for Political and Security affairs, warned that “those who wish to congregate in public must obtain permits from the Ministry of the Interior, and be aware than any public disturbances or threats, are against the laws and they will not be tolerated.”

Published at Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:13:39 +0000

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Iran's Supreme Leader blames 'enemies' for protests, death toll hits 21 – CNN

Iran's Supreme Leader blames 'enemies' for protests, death toll hits 21 – CNN

In his first remarks since the demonstrations erupted last Thursday, Khamenei accused the nation’s enemies of “joining forces” against Iran and blamed them for the violence in recent days.
“The enemy is waiting for an opportunity, for a flaw, through which they can enter. Look at these events over the last few days. All those who are against the Islamic Republic, those who have money, those who have the politics, those who have the weapons, those who have the intelligence, they have all joined forces in order to create problems for the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution,” he said.
Khamenei delivered a statement in Tehran on Tuesday.
“God willing I have got things to say to my dear people in due course. The animosity is there, but what can prevent this animosity is the spirit of bravery, the spirit of sacrifice and the spirit of faith, a good example of which was your children.”
Khamenei did not make clear exactly who he was referring to, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier slammed US President Donald Trump for tweeting his support for the protesters on Monday.
On Tuesday, Trump wrote another tweet, slamming the Iranian government as “brutal and corrupt.”
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The US is watching!”
A demonstration at the University of Tehran on Saturday
Other Iranian officials had blamed “foreign agents” and an online “proxy war” waged by the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia for the violence.
Khamenei’s remarks followed more deadly violence on Monday, in which nine people were killed, including seven protesters, a member of a pro-government militia and a policeman. Twelve others were killed over the weekend as the protests intensified.
The protests have become the biggest challenge to the government’s authority since mass demonstrations in 2009. Around 450 people have been arrested over the past three days, according to state media.

Protesters storm police station, report says

On Monday, six protestors were killed in the central city of Qahdarijan when demonstrators stormed a police station and attempted to take guns from authorities, state media reported.
A member of the Basij, a pro-government militia, was killed in south Tehran. And a policeman in Najafabad was killed when a protester shot at officers with a hunting rifle, according to state media. Three other officers were wounded.
Among the 12 people killed over the weekend were a man and his young son, when a fire truck hijacked by protesters ran them down on a street in western Iran’s Dorud, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Here's why the Iran protests are significant
Video images shared on social media from central Tuyserkan on Sunday showed protesters throwing chairs, tables and other objects in reach at riot police, forcing the outnumbered officers to retreat. Six protesters were shot dead in the unrest there, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The rallies began Thursday over the country’s stagnant economy and rising living costs, but they developed into a broader outcry against the government and intensified over the weekend.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to downplay the significance of the protests, which have spread beyond the capital of Tehran to at least 18 cities.
“Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament Monday.
But other officials have warned of strict crackdowns, and the mass arrests show that the country is concerned by spreading dissent.
Ali Asghar Nasser-Bakht, Tehran’s Deputy Governor for Political and Security affairs, warned that “those who wish to congregate in public must obtain permits from the Ministry of the Interior, and be aware than any public disturbances or threats, are against the laws and they will not be tolerated.”

Published at Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:13:39 +0000

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What Trump faces upon return from Mar-a-Lago – CBS News

What Trump faces upon return from Mar-a-Lago – CBS News

President Donald Trump has returned from an end-of year holiday to face fresh legislative challenges, midterm elections and threats abroad.

The president began the second year of his presidency with confrontational tweets targeting Iran and Pakistan. He slammed Islamabad on Monday for “lies & deceit,” saying the country had played U.S. leaders for “fools,” by not doing enough to control militants.

Pakistani officials, including Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, responded on Twitter that the country would make clear “the difference between facts and fiction.”

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a future threat. To that, Trump only said: “We’ll see.”

The president is hoping for more legislative achievements after his pre-Christmas success on taxes. He plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Camp David next weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda.

Ahead of the Camp David retreat, White House and Capitol Hill sources familiar confirmed to CBS News that the Republican and Democratic congressional leaders will also meet on Wednesday with senior administration officials to hold talks on government spending and other priorities for both sides. 

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley says budget director Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Marc Short will attend the afternoon session, which is expected to focus on budget caps and what Gidley calls “other legislative items.” 

Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump’s historic unpopularity and some recent Democratic wins.

The president concluded 2017 with his first major legislative achievement — a law to cut taxes, beginning this year, for corporations and individuals at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion added to the national debt over 10 years. The tax overhaul also will end the requirement, in 2019, that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine. That’s a key component of the Obama-era health law that that Republicans have been unable to repeal; other features of the law remain intact.

The White House has said Trump will come forward with his long-awaited infrastructure plan in January. Trump has also said he wants to overhaul welfare and recently predicted Democrats and Republicans will “eventually come together” to develop a new health care plan.

Ryan has talked about overhauling Medicaid and Medicare and other safety-net programs, but McConnell has signaled an unwillingness to go that route unless there’s Democratic support for any changes. Republicans will have just a 51-49 Senate majority — well shy of the 60 votes needed to pass most bills — giving leverage to Democrats.

Congress also has to deal with a backlog from 2017. It must agree on a spending bill by Jan. 19 to avert a partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers also have unfinished business on additional aid to for hurricane victims, lifting the debt ceiling, extending a children’s health insurance program and extending protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump has said he wants money for a border wall in exchange for protecting those immigrants.

Trump spent his last day in Florida as he spent most other days — visiting his golf course and tweeting.

On Pakistan, he said: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to comment on Pakistan. The U.S. has long accused Islamabad of allowing militants to operate relatively freely in Pakistan’s border regions to carry out operations in neighboring Afghanistan. In August, the United States said it would hold up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan.

On Iran, Trump kept up his drumbeat in support of widespread anti-government protests there. He tweeted Monday that Iran is “failing at every level” and it is “TIME FOR CHANGE.”

While some Iranians have shared Trump’s tweets, many distrust him as he’s refused to re-certify the nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country and because his travel bans have blocked Iranians from getting U.S. visas.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Published at Tue, 02 Jan 2018 12:15:00 +0000

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US Customs computers outage causes delays for airport travelers – CNN

US Customs computers outage causes delays for airport travelers – CNN

The outage affected airports including JFK, San Francisco and Denver, as international travelers arrived from holiday travels on New Year’s Day.
CBP said “there is no indication the service disruption was malicious in nature.” It said that all airports were back online after the outage lasted from 7:30 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m. ET.
Passengers who landed during those hours stood in long, snaking lines at the international arrivals area, trying to get through passport control.
CBP said it “took immediate action to address the technology disruption.”
“CBP officers continued to process international travelers using alternative procedures at affected airports. Travelers at some ports of entry experienced longer than usual wait times as CBP officers processed travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security,” it said in a statement.
The agency said it had access to the national security-related databases during the outage.
Several airports, including JFK International and the Dallas Fort Worth International acknowledged the delays on Twitter.

Published at Tue, 02 Jan 2018 05:15:42 +0000

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