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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Obama Jokes, Laughs While Discussing Deadly Munich Attack

It should go without saying that the time to crack a joke and laugh is not when you are talking about a mass shooting. That, however, is exactly what President Obama did on Friday when discussing the possible terror attack in Munich, Germany, that killed at least nine people. 

“Obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured, it’s still an active situation and Germany is one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with these circumstances,” he told the press. 

“It’s a good reminder of something that I’ve said over the last couple of weeks, which is our way of life, our freedoms, our ability to go about our business every day, raising our kids and seeing them grow up, and graduate from high school and now about to leave their dad,” he said to raucous laughter.

“I’m sorry I’m getting a little too personal,” he said smiling. “Getting a little too personal there. That depends on law enforcement.”

Don’t believe MSM trying to sell Kaine as a centrist

Four Lessons about the Nice Attack

President Half-Staff

Leaked DNC emails reveal sec

Leaked DNC emails reveal secret plans to take on Sanders
By Elliot Smilowitz and Joe Uchill - 07-22-16 14:21 PM EDT

Top officials at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) privately planned how to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, according to a trove of emails released by WikiLeaks on Friday.

The Sanders campaign had long claimed the DNC and Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had tipped the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during the party's presidential primary.

The email release will reignite that controversy just days before Democrats gather in Philadelphia for their convention to officially nominate Clinton for president.

Guccifer 2.0 told The Hill he leaked the documents to Wikileaks.

In one May 21 email, DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach writes to communications director Luis Miranda about planting a narrative to the media that Sanders's "campaign was a mess."

"Specifically, [Wasserman Schultz] had to call Bernie directly in order to get the campaign to do things because they'd either ignored or forgotten to something critical," he wrote.

"It's not a DNC conspiracy, it's because they never had their act together," Paustenbach concluded.

In another email from early May, DNC CFO Brad Marshall appears to write about a plan to question Sanders's religion.

The email does not name the Vermont senator, but it talks about a man of "Jewish heritage" Marshall believes to be an atheist. It makes reference to voters in Kentucky and West Virginia, two states that were holding upcoming primary elections.

"It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist," the email says.

Marshall did not respond to a request for comment. But he did tell The Intercept, which first noticed the email, "I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate."

Wasserman Schultz wrote in May that Sanders "isn't going to be president" and in April that he "has no understanding of" the Democratic Party.

Emails from Wasserman Schultz pertaining to Sanders show a frustration with his campaign's claims of DNC bias and with media reports focused on Sanders's battles with the committee.

Wasserman Schultz sent an email to NBC anchor Chuck Todd with the subject line "Chuck, this must stop," and set up a time for the two to talk about MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski calling on Wasserman Schultz to step down.

In another email chain, Miranda said Brzezinski was willing to talk with Wasserman Schultz.

"She's already served as a judge and jury without even bothering to talk to me. Not sure why I should trust having a conversation with her would make any difference. Or that she even matters, to be frank," Wasserman Schultz wrote back after a brief exchange.

In response to a New York Times story about Sanders's defiance in the wake May's unruly Democratic state convention in Nevada, Wasserman Schultz wrote: "Every time they get caught doing something wrong, they use the tactic of blaming me. Not working this time."

Jonathan Easley and Evelyn Rupert contributed.

Updated at 3:36 p.m.

Trump capitalizing on fears over crime

Trump capitalizing on fears over crime
By Katie Bo Williams - 07-23-16 09:02 AM EDT

Americans are more afraid of violent crime today than they have been at any time since before the September 11 terror attacks - even as long-term trends suggest the United States is a safer place to live.

Donald Trump is capitalizing on the fears, and made law and order a central part of his speech Thursday night accepting the GOP presidential nomination.

"The first task for our new Administration will be to liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities," Trump said in an address that included statistics pointing to rising crime in several U.S. cities.

"Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America's 50 largest cities," Trump said. "That's the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation's capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore."

It's not clear where Trump's statistics come from, though preliminary data for 2015 shows a 1.7 increase in violent crime from 2014 to 2015.

The western regions of the country saw the greatest increase - over 5 percent - while the Northeast actually saw violent crime drop by 3 percent.

There was also an increase in murders in major metropolitan areas across the U.S. in the beginning of 2016 - a 9 percent spike on average - according to data released in May by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association.

"Something is happening," FBI Director James B. Comey said at the time.

But Trump's claim that killings have risen by 50 percent in D.C. and 60 percent in Baltimore isn't accurate, according to police department data from both cities. To date in D.C., homicides are actually down 9 percent from 2015. In Baltimore, they're down about 13 percent.

The Hill reached out to Trump's campaign but did not receive a response. The origin of his statistics remains unclear.

Around two dozen cities saw an increase in homicides in the first quarter of 2016, but in over 40 others murders either declined or remained static.

The long-term trend is a drop in violent crime. It has been sliced almost in half since it peaked in the 1990s.

As recently as 2014, the most recent year for which the FBI has released complete data, the violent crime total was still dropping - 7 percent from 2010 and 16 percent from 2005.

"There is definitely no uptick" in violent crime, said Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo, an associate professor of criminal justice at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven.

"If anything is happening, it's the flattening of the downturn."

Polls show public concern about crime is at a 15-year high.

Over half of Americans say they worry "a great deal" about crime and violence - more than say they worry about a terrorist attack. At 53 percent, it's a 14-point rise since 2014 and the highest figure Gallup has recorded since spring of 2001.

Concern levels have exploded in Americans across the board. Although low-income individuals reported more anxiety than high-income individuals and non-whites more than whites, only one group remained essentially immune: college graduates.

It's easy to understand why fears might have increased.

A spate of high-profile shootings of black men by police officers and the assassination of eight police officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, La., shook the country.

Americans have also been unnerved by the terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino, Calif.

"Americans' perceptions of crime are not always on par with reality," notes Gallup in an October poll that showed seven in 10 Americans believed crime was rising, even though few had been the victim of a crime.

"News media reports probably have more of an effect on Americans' perceptions of crime in the U.S. than their personal experience with crime," according to Gallup.

All of this suggests the law and order theme espoused by Trump could have some potency as a political issue.

With "Make America Safe Again," Republican strategists say, Trump is tapping into a specific, widespread anxiety in the same way that he successfully leveraged trade and immigration concerns earlier in the year.

"It's one of his strengths," GOP strategist Matt Mackowiack said. "He understands where the average person is, how they're processing information, how they're reacting to things, how they're feeling. He's making a much better emotional connection [than Democratic rival Clinton]."

President Obama has pushed back at suggestions that violent crime is rising on his watch.

"Although it is true that we've seen an uptick in murders and violent crime in some cities this year, the fact of the matter is that the murder rate today, the violence rate today is far lower than it was when Ronald Reagan was president and lower than when I took office," Obama said Friday.

Trump Rails Against Cruz, Defends Tweets Attacking Senator’s Father, Wife

(left) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (right) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A day after accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump pivoted back to the GOP primaries on Friday, choosing to re-litigate a pair of months-old battles with rival Ted Cruz.

In what should have been a feel-good victory lap the morning after his thundering acceptance speech, Trump instead defended his decision to retweet an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and returned to wondering about possible links between Cruz’s father and President John F. Kennedy’s assassin. He also declared that he would never accept the Texas senator’s backing.

“He’ll come and endorse. It’s because he has no choice. But I don’t want his endorsement,” Trump said. “Ted, stay home. Relax. Enjoy yourself.”

Cruz, in Georgia on Friday to campaign for a Republican congressional candidate, never mentioned Trump but received a standing ovation upon his entrance and again when he mentioned “a little-noticed talk that I gave in Cleveland.”

That “talk” was perhaps the most dramatic moment of the GOP’s four-day convention. Dormant since ending his campaign in early May, Cruz reignited the personal feud between the top two finishers in the Republican primaries when he spoke at the convention but would not urge his hundreds of delegates to vote for Trump in November. Boos echoed across the arena.

Trump made no mention of his former rival during his acceptance speech Thursday night, but he switched gears Friday morning. The invitation-only event, billed as a thank-you reception for supporters and staff at Trump’s Cleveland hotel, at first looked like it would simply consist of Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, making perfunctory remarks saluting the convention and pledging to win in November.

Then Trump bore in on Cruz, calling his non-endorsement “dishonorable” before revisiting the hubbub over the celebrity businessman March’s retweet of a post that juxtaposed an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz with a glamour shot of Trump’s wife, Melania, a former model. At the time, Cruz criticized Trump for involving his wife and Trump’s responded by accusing a super PAC affiliated with Cruz of sending a risque photo of Melania Trump to Utah voters.

“I didn’t start anything with the wife,” Trump said Friday. “Then when I saw somebody tweeted a picture of Melania and a picture of Heidi, who I think, by the way, is a very nice woman and a very beautiful woman.”

“I think (she’s) the best thing he’s got going and his kids if you want to know the truth,” he continued during a nearly 15-minute ramble about Cruz.

Trump turned to justifying how, on the eve of the Indiana primary, he touted a story in the National Enquirer tabloid that printed a photo that purported to show Cruz’s father, Rafael, with Lee Harvey Oswald.

“All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast,” the GOP nominee said. “Did anybody ever deny that was the father? They’re not saying, ‘Oh that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.”

Cruz, in May, denied that his father was in the photo.

The senator ignored questions Friday in Georgia about Trump’s comments and about whether a personal apology from Trump might coax his endorsement. In a 25-minute speech, he called for Republicans to “come together and unite in the defense of liberty” to “defeat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.”


Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Newnan, Georgia, contributed to this report.


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