Current Events
Current Events

Mark Your Calendars

We will all get the same text message…on the same day…from the President of the United States.

Current Events

What’s Going On?

FEMA testing a “Presidential Alert” – an announcement from the President for use only in the event of national emergencies.

The “text test” was scheduled for THIS Thursday Sept. 20 at 2:18 p.m. EST, but will instead go out on October 3rd because FEMA says it’s focusing on Hurricane Florence recovery.

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Why Now?

  • 95% of Americans own a cell phone.
  • Congress authorized “emergency wireless alerts” to communicate with the public. Amber alerts for kidnapped children or tornado warnings often use this system.
  • You can opt out of receiving Amber Alerts but NOT for this national alert.
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Some argue this is a great tool for communicating with the public during dire times; others say it presents a risk for hacking or abuse. Either way, this will be the first wireless emergency alert directly from an American President.

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Current Events

High Court: High Stakes

Public Hearing Set For Accuser AND Supreme Court Nominee.

Why an allegation from his high school days now haunts Judge Brett Kavanaugh and how it may impact the future of our nation’s highest court.

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What’s At Stake?

  • Supreme Court Justice serves for lifetime.
  • Pres nominates Judge; Senate must confirm.
  • Court functions even if all 9 seats aren’t filled; currently 4 “left leaning” & 4 “conservative” justices.
  • Kavanaugh described as a “conservative” judge, which would tip the court to the “right.”

 

Current Events
  • July: Accuser calls newspaper tip line when Judge Kavanaugh reportedly on short list of Supreme Court nominees; declines going “on record.” July 9th: Kavanaugh nominated.
  • Accuser sends confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), declines coming forward. Feinstein refers letter to feds.
  • Story leaks after Senate Judiciary Hearing ends.
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“I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Professor Christine Blasey Ford describing what she says happened 30+ years ago at a high school party when Kavanaugh and his friend allegedly trapped her in a room. She doesn't remember exact date or place - says everyone was drinking. She claims Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge jumped on top of them, causing them all to fall, and she freed herself.
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“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself…”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
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“It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.”

Mark Judge, friend of Brett Kavanaugh who the accuser says was in the room when the assault happened. Judge wrote a book about recovering from alcoholism. He has written for conservative news outlets; the accuser has donated to democratic campaigns.
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Timing Matters

  • Senate Judiciary Cmte was scheduled to vote THIS Thursday for/against Judge Kavanaugh. This isn’t happening.
  • Republicans want Kavanaugh confirmed before midterms (Nov) & next SCOTUS term (Oct).
  • Democrats want to delay vote; if Senate flips to Dem majority after midterms they can block Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
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Some Things To Consider:

  • Allegations never surfaced during ANY of Kavanaugh’s prior character checks (applying to law school, bar, or federal judge).
  • The accuser has NOT filed a criminal complaint, but her lawyers says she will share her story with the Senate.
  • No other accusers have come forward at this time.
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On Monday, Sept 24th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing, during which Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will both appear one after the other and testify under oath.

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Current Events

“A Dangerous New Phase”

Tensions between Iran & America heat up overseas.

Meanwhile, Fmr. Sec. of State John Kerry admits to meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister and discussing matters of great national importance to the United States.

Why some say he belongs in jail.

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The Backstory

Sec. Kerry on a radio show last week promoting his new book admitted to meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister after he left office:

“I met with him at a conference in Norway. I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Fmr. Sec. Kerry to Hugh Hewitt
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Why This Matters:

  • Private American citizens aren’t supposed to communicate with foreign officials to influence matters of national importance (“The Logan Act“).
  • Context: Some say Mike Flynn, Pres. Trump’s former national security advisor, violated the Logan Act when he spoke with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.
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Logan Act

  • Named for a Pennsylvania Quaker Dr. George Logan, friend of VP Thomas Jefferson, who traveled to France in the late 1700s and tried to negotiate on behalf of the United States. President John Adams wasn’t happy. Hence, a new law.
  • No one has ever been convicted of the Logan Act in more than 220 years.
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“I’ll leave the legal determinations to others. But what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and according to him – right? You don’t have to take my word for it….He was talking to them. He was telling them to wait out this administration.”

Sec of State Mike Pompeo
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ICYMI: Big Story

Important: During his presser, Sec. Pompeo squarely blamed Iran for firing rockets at America’s embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Basra.

What’s Happening: Iran backs some Iraqi politicians, we support others. Iran blames the U.S. for stirring up dissent against the officials they support.

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Kerry admitted to speaking to the Iranian Foreign Minister about Yemen, Syria, and Iranian backed terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, and beyond. He says he has every right to speak to Iranian officials because past public officials, like Henry Kissinger, have done the same.

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Current Events

PETROL PRIDE

Move over Russia & Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is now the largest global oil producer.

And we have Texas to thank.

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Don’t Mess with Texas

  • U.S. produces 11M barrels oil per day – more than any country in the world for 1st time since 1973.
  • Texas is responsible for one-fifth of U.S. production due to shale drilling boom.
  • Texas is now on track to produce more oil than Iraq & Iran; Mideast instability has impacted that region’s oil markets.
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“It’s a historic milestone and a reminder: Never bet against the US oil industry.”

Bob McNally, president of Radian Energy Group, a consulting firm.
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Why It Matters

  • More production at home makes the U.S. less reliant on volatile Middle East, creating more jobs for production & distribution.
  • Also important to remember: Oil is a global market. If Saudi Arabia or Russia ramped up production dramatically, it could drive prices lower – potentially to a point that would make extracting oil from shale not worth it financially.
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The Department of Energy expects US oil production next year to continue at this pace or slightly higher, allowing it to remain the world's #1 oil producer through 2019.

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Current Events

WAR GAMES

On the 17th memorial of Sept. 11th, Russia launches its largest military drills since The Cold War.

And invites China to play.

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“The giant drill is clearly meant as a show of strength by Vladimir Putin and his military, a demonstration that – despite Western sanctions, including against the defence sector – the country remains defiant.”

Sarah Rainsford, BBC journalist in Moscow, who adds Russia views NATO as a threat as well.
Current Events

What You Should Know:

  • Russia holds these military drills every year; last year’s was also historically large & in September (but not during 9/11).
  • This year: 300,000 Russians participating; 36,000 tanks.
  • Drills prepare for a massive conflict.
  • Some say Russia inflates the numbers, BUT military strength part of Pres. Putin’s agenda.
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“UNPRECEDENTED”

  • It’s not just the size of the military drill, but the fact China added more than 3,000 troops to Russia’s annual exercise.
  • Russian & Chinese leaders reportedly meeting during drills.
  • Takeaway: This is a significant show of cooperation vs. the United States as a global leader (what both sides refer to as a “unipolar world”).
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The U.S. participates in smaller "war games" with NATO & with South Korea. By preparing to work with allies, we rehearse what would happen in a crisis. Some note Russia/China together could challenge U.S. military dominance.

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“Worst Humanitarian Crisis In The World”

Some of America’s most dangerous enemies live there.

Will peace talks make us safer?

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Why Yemen Matters

Unstable country provides home for terrorists to fester & launch attacks.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penniusula” (AQAP) calls Yemen home.

AQ cleric Anwar al-Awlaki found refuge in Yemen, as did al-Qaeda’s lead bomb maker who helped launch the so-called underwear bomber.

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What’s Happening

A civil war rages inside Yemen: “Houthi” Rebels vs. Yemeni gov’t.

U.N.-led talks between the 2 sides take place in Geneva this week.

Rebels backed by Iran; Saudis back the Yemeni gov’t (as does U.S.).

Big Question: Do talks help the 4-year conflict or make situation worse?

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The U.N. described the conditions in Yemen as an "apocalypse." Millions don't have basic needs. U.S. Defense Secretary recently said America's support of Saudi Arabia has to include an effort to avoid civilian casualties.

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Current Events

America On The Attack

 

American airstrikes target
al-Qaeda in Africa at a record pace as strikes drop near Afghanistan.

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What You Should Know:

  • U.S. has a consistent bombing campaign vs. al-Shabaab (al-Qaeda’s arm in Somalia); airstrike killed 3 terrorists this week.
  • U.S. dropped 31 bombs in Somalia in 2017; this year’s # of airstrikes likely the same or more.
  • Despite their efforts, military says al-Shabaab threatens safety of Americans; U.S. soldier killed in June.
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Why al-Shabaab Matters:

“They’ve been able to kill very high numbers and you didn’t see that five years ago. They’ve been able to actually overrun bases at times. The danger is as African Union forces draw down, they may retake major urban areas. I think there’s a good chance of that.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Senior Analyst, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
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Something To Consider:

While U.S. airstrikes against al-Qaeda increased over the last 2 years in Africa (al-Shabaab in Somalia, & al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen), they have dropped against al-Qaeda in Pakistan, a key area for America’s longest war: Afghanistan.

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Al-Qaeda (AQ) Adjusts

  • After 17 years at war, our enemies learn lessons.
  • AQ moved deeper into urban areas in Pakistan where drones will not strike.
  • AQ returned to Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden instructed his followers to do so.
  • Afghanistan “home” to arguably more terrorist groups now than in 2001: AQ, Taliban and ISIS.
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The U.S military reportedly dropped thousands more bombs inside Afghanistan in 2017 than in 2016, as U.S. military defends against the Taliban & ISIS. Keep An Eye On This Story: China denies reports its building a military base in Afghanistan.

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So Long Sororities? 

 

 

 

Harvard University’s last all-female Greek sisterhood goes co-ed.

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WHY?
Administrative Pressure

In 2016, Harvard said it would prevent Class of 2021 members of single-gender groups from holding student leadership roles, receiving endorsements for fellowships, & becoming varsity captains.

Accordingly, Alpha Phi, Harvard’s last remaining Greek sorority, has become the co-ed group, “The Ivy.”

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“It is with deep sadness that we accept Iota Tau’s decision to cease activities. New sanctions put in place by Harvard University placed our members in an untenable conflict – to choose between their supportive, empowering women-only space and external scholastic and leadership opportunities.”

Renee Zainer, Alpha Phi International President and Chairman of the International Executive Board
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What About The Guys?

9 male-only groups, including 3 fraternities, remain. 4 formerly male-only groups are now coed.

The more established history of Harvard’s male-only organizations (and their powerful alumni) are believed by some to carry more weight in resisting the sanctions, according to the Harvard Crimson.

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BIGGER PICTURE

Participation in ‘Greek Life’ declining overall.

  • Alcohol-related and/or hazing-related violence may deter membership; certain universities have simply suspended their “Greek Life” programs.
  • Others say a push toward gender inclusivity is the cause.
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Harvard isn't alone. Recently, Wesleyan University and Trinity College mandated their fraternities & sororities be co-ed. Trinity's mandate lasted 3 years. Wesleyan's was also short-lived after a fraternity sued the school over it and won.

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“Shame & Sorrow”

Fresh off a visit to Ireland, the Pope faces new allegations he knew about the latest clergy abuse scandal for years while offering no concrete measures to end or punish it.

Total payouts for U.S. victims are just a fraction of money collected at Sunday Mass each year.

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A Number You’ve Probably Heard: $3B

Often quoted the Catholic Church has paid out $3B to U.S. victims.

BUT that data hasn’t been updated since 2011 & doesn’t include smaller settlements since 2002.

Bishop Accountability, which compiles the data, says $3B is an “underestimate.”

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“I really worry about a loss to credibility, a loss of trust. There’s no use denying it. We can’t sugarcoat it, this is disastrous.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, after a Pennsylvania grand jury report last week showed the church covered up the abuse of 1K+ minors by 300 priests over 70 years.
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Where the Collection Goes

  • Approx. 17M Catholic U.S. households donate an average of $10 each week = $8.8B each year.
  • Donations are typically used to fund church operations or social services.
  • In some cases, donations have been used in connection with settlements paid to victims.
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“For the billions it has cost the Catholic Church, it does not compare to the cost of (traumatic) lives that many have suffered over the years,”

Johnny Vega, who was raped by a priest & deacon at his New Jersey church where he served as an altar boy. He received part of a $5M settlement in 2005 with 2 dozen other victims.
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Bigger Picture

  • Percentage of Catholics worldwide is steady at 18%.
  • Number of U.S. Catholics declined from 2015 (81M) to 2017 (74M), but had been steadily increasing since 1970.
  • According to a 2010 Pew survey: About 27% of those who had left the church blamed the clergy sexual abuse scandals.
Current Events

Missouri's AG Josh Hawley, a Republican running for Senate, has launched an investigation into Catholic Church sexual abuse making it the 1st state to publicly do so. Archdiocese of St. Louis promises "unfettered access."

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Current Events

Sen. John McCain

 

“We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always.”

Sen. John McCain, 2004 Republican National Convention
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McCain: The “Maverick”

Earned the nickname “Maverick” in recent years for his willingness to vote against his party.

The six term Arizona Senator ran for President in 2000 & 2008, securing the GOP nomination in 2008.

McCain spent 5½ years in captivity as a POW in North Vietnam after his Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down in 1967.

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McCain: A Prisoner Of War

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s…. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for… I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.”

Sen. John McCain, GOP Convention Speech, 2008
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The McCains: A Blended American Family

McCain is a father to 7 children

  • He adopted his 1st wife’s (Carol) two sons (Andrew & Douglas)
  • He & Carol had a daughter (Sidney)
  • He & Cindy (2nd wife) had 3 kids (Meghan, James & John Jr.)
  • He & Cindy adopted a daughter (Bridget) from Bangladesh
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“Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that.”

Sen. John McCain, Accepting the GOP Nomination, 2008
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In his newly released memoir, "The Restless Wave," he wrote: "It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

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COLLISION COURSE

 

Despite being an island paradise in the middle of wide open ocean, hurricanes rarely hit Hawaii.
Why?

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Why So Rare?

“You’re a pretty small spot in a large ocean, and to have something hit you takes a bit of an unfortunate alignment of things.”

Brian McNoldy, University of Miami meterologist says only 5 storms as strong as Hurricane Lane have EVER been recorded *near* Hawaii. Wind patterns tend to keep storms away.
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Something To Consider:

  • Hawaii marked its anniversary as America’s 50th state this week on Aug 21 (1959) – only state that’s all islands.
  • Since hurricanes rarely hit Hawaii, higher risk of significant damage: not enough shelters, less prepared, difficult to reach.
  • All 8 islands in danger.
  • Officials want citizens to have essential supplies for 14 days.
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2018 Hurricane Season

  • June 1 – November 30th.
  • May 23 NOAA forecast predicted average / above average cyclone activity (3-6 storms) this season in the Pacific. One warning?

“It is very important to remember that it only takes one landfalling tropical cyclone to bring major impacts to the State of Hawaii.”

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What’s The Difference?

Cyclone vs. Hurricane

NOTHING.
You might hear both.

“Hurricanes and typhoons are the same weather phenomenon:
tropical cyclones.”

Read More: Click Here
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NOAA forecasts suggest a "normal" hurricane season for the Atlantic (0-2 major hurricanes). Want to see how rare it is for Hawaii to have a hurricane? Check out an amazing graphic from NOAA on our source page as well as an update on the Kilauea Volcano eruptions.

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Current Events

YOUR TAX DOLLAR$ AT WORK

$17+Million

Estimated costs to date in direct/indirect expenses of the “Mueller” Special Counsel investigation.

Here’s what we’ve learned from the investigation aimed at protecting America’s democracy.

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THE “FIRSTS”

  • Pres. Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort: first indicted by Special Counsel & first to be found guilty by a jury.
  • Manafort convicted of 8 felonies – none relating to the 2016 election OR Russian meddling.
  • Pres. Trump’s fmr lawyer, Michael Cohen: first to plead guilty to charges resulting from a reported referral from the Special Counsel.

 

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WHY IT MATTERS:

Manafort’s convictions have ZERO to do with Pres. Trump or election.

Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 felonies, incl 2 campaign finance charges related to 2016 election. Prosecutor said he “worked to pay money to silence two women who had information that he believed would be detrimental to the 2016 campaign…”

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NOW WHAT?

MANAFORT: faces up to 80 years behind bars. He also faces another trial in D.C. next month.

COHEN: sentencing slated for December. He faces 3 – 5 yrs in prison.

What it means for President Trump? TBD

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“Cohen … is more than happy to tell the Special Counsel all that he knows – not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election…”

Michael Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis. Davis is best known for serving in the Clinton White House.
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Pres. Trump called the Manafort trial a "witch hunt and disgrace." He has yet to speak publicly about Cohen's case. Meanwhile, the Special Counsel's investigation is entering its sixteenth month as WSJ reports of Russian hacking ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

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