Main Menu

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

 

Kevin Durant will join the Golden State Warriors

maxresdefault (2)

The wait is over.

Kevin Durant — the biggest name in this summer’s NBA free agent class — has decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors and will leave the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The decision was announced Monday on The Players’ Tribune, a media platform used by athletes to tell their own stories.

The 27-year-old forward is listed as a “Deputy Publisher” for the website.

“This has been by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life,” Durant said of his decision. “I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices. What I didn’t truly understand, however, was the range of emotions I would feel during this process.

“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”

The NBA moratorium period on signings and trades ends on Thursday, which is the earliest Durant officially can sign with the Warriors.

NBA Free Agency 2016: Live updates, rumors and signings for July 4

Durant — who has yet to win an NBA championship — now will team up with Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry as well as forward Draymond Green and guard Klay Thompson. The Warriors, who won an NBA-record 73 games in the regular season, narrowly lost the NBA Finals in seven games to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month.

On Monday, Green tweeted his welcome to Durant, adding, “Let’s just do what we are setting out to do!”

According to reports, Durant had narrowed down his choices to the Warriors and the Thunder. That made for interesting timing, as the Thunder came up just short of reaching the NBA Finals this year, blowing a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. Durant led all scorers in this year’s postseason with 28.4 points per game.

“Kevin’s contributions to our organization during his nine years were profound, on and off the court,” Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett said in a statement Monday. “He helped the Thunder grow and succeed in immeasurable ways and impacted the community just the same. We thank him for his leadership, his play, and how he represented Oklahoma City and the entire state of Oklahoma.”

This is the most frenzy surrounding an NBA free agent decision since LeBron James announced in 2014 that he would return to the Cavaliers after spending four seasons with the Miami Heat.

Durant, who won the NBA MVP award in 2014, was third in league scoring this past regular season with 28.2 points per game. He also has been selected to the US Olympic men’s national team for the Rio Games.

Durant had played for the same organization his entire career. Coming out of Texas, he was the No. 2 pick of the 2007 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. The team moved to Oklahoma City and was renamed the Thunder starting in the 2008-2009 season. The Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2012, losing to the Heat in five games.

“Kevin made an indelible mark on the Thunder organization and the state of Oklahoma as a founding father of this franchise,” Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti said in a statement Monday. “We can’t adequately articulate what he meant to the foundation of this franchise and our success. While clearly disappointing that he has chosen to move on, the core values that he helped establish only lead to us thanking him for the many tangible and intangible ways that he helped our program.”

But despite moving to an NBA powerhouse, Durant wrote that he will miss Oklahoma City.

“I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me,” Durant said. “It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.”

“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.”

Suicide attackers launch wave of strikes in Saudi Arabia

Air_strike_in_Sana'a_11-5-2015

Three suicide attacks in 24 hours — that’s how Saudis will remember the end of Ramadan, a month that has seen the wider region plunged into a wave of terror-related violence.

The attacks — including one in Medina, one of the holiest sites in Islam — follow massive jihadi assaults from Turkey to Iraq that have been been tied to ISIS. Analysts believe events in Saudi Arabia could also be the work of the terror group.

There has been no claim of responsibility so far.

Two of the attacks failed but four people were killed in the third, all of which appear to be coordinated — targeting both Saudi security forces and Western interests.

The first occurred before dawn near the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. The attacker killed only himself after detonating an explosive according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Policemen were injured in the attack.

The Saudi Interior Ministry identified the Jeddah bomber as Pakistani national Abdullah Qlazar Khan.

The ministry said the 34-year-old man blew himself up with an explosives belt. He lived in Jeddah with his wife and one of her parents. He came to Saudi Arabia 12 years ago to work as a driver, Saudi officials said.

In Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia, a suicide bomber attempted to launch an attack at a Shiite mosque but failed, killing himself in the process, according to an official with knowledge of the event. There were no injuries.

The deadliest occurred in Medina, where four people were killed and another person was wounded, according to an official with knowledge of the event. The city is a major spot in Islam because that’s where the Prophet Mohammed is buried.

The bomber, who died in the explosion, targeted security officers, but it is unknown precisely who was killed, the source said.

Suspicions point to ISIS

The strikes come as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends and Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, the U.S. independence day.

They follow dramatic attacks last week in Turkey, Bangladesh, Yemen and Iraq, that killed scores of people. They are claimed or thought to be carried out by ISIS.

Tim Lister, a CNN expert on Middle East affairs, said the Saudi attacks fit the “modus operandi” of ISIS and the kingdom represents “a real target to show” ISIS “can punch above its weight.”

“Saudi Arabia is a big target for them. They have a lot of Saudi fighters in their ranks. They regard the Saudi monarchy as having betrayed Islam.”

The group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing last August that ripped through a mosque belonging to a special emergency force in the southwestern part of the country, killing at least 13 people and leaving nine others wounded.

The kingdom’s special emergency force, answering to the Interior Ministry, comprises quick-response security officers used for a variety of situations, including rescues, riot control and other police actions. ISIS’ statement claims the emergency force played a significant role in torturing ISIS supporters.

Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, said ISIS called for attacks during Ramadan and “now we have them.”

Attacking a Shiite mosque, a U.S. entity and the holy city of Medina are meant to embarrass the Saudis. The attack on Medina specifically undercuts the royal Saudi family’s claim to be the “protectors of the two holy places,” Bergen said, a reference to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

But, Bergen said, a suicide attack in Medina couldn’t be more counterproductive because the attack took place at a revered Muslim location during Ramadan. It would seem senseless to undertake that kind of action, he said, and he expects it would be greeted with “strong condemnation and puzzlement” by the Muslim faithful.

Around the world, the hashtag #PrayForMedina has been retweeted thousands of times, as Muslims responded with outrage and horror to the attack near Islam’s second most holy site.

Jeddah blast occurs near consulate wall

Early Monday, the Saudi police became suspicious of a man who appeared to be roaming around a parking lot of a major hospital, the news agency reported. When officers approached him, the man detonated what appeared to be an explosive belt.

The explosion happened roughly 33 feet (10 meters) from the consulate’s wall.

Witnesses told CNN the blast occurred about 3 a.m. local time and that it appeared that at least two police officers were slightly injured in the attack.

The Saudi news agency reported that the policemen were slightly injured and that they were taken to the hospital. The report did not specify how many were hurt.

None of the bystanders in the parking lot were injured in the attack, according to SPA.

Police found three devices inside the bomber’s car. A bomb disposal unit used a robot to detonate them, said a journalist who was on the scene.

The Interior Ministry is investigating the case, according to the SPA.

A U.S. State Department official told CNN that all chief of mission personnel were accounted for. The bombing came after a week of attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq, which have left many on edge.

In 2004, the U.S. consulate in Jeddah was attacked by gunmen linked to al Qaeda, who killed five employees.

Trump Taj Mahal Casino workers strike continues over holiday weekend

Trump_Taj_Mahal,_2007

The picket lines continued outside the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Sunday as workers entered day three of a strike.

About 1,000 employees — who cook, serve guests and clean hotel rooms — stopped working Friday after negotiations broke down between casino owners and UNITE Here Local 54, the city’s largest workers union.

Bob McDevitt, Local 54’s president, said about 98% of those workers are standing by the strike and intend to hold out “as long as it takes.”

The casino’s dealers, cashiers and security staff are not covered by the union. General manager Alan Rivin said Friday that the management staff would follow a “contingency plan” to fill in the staffing gaps, but the casino declined further comment Sunday.

The July 4th holiday typically brings in customers to Atlantic City’s struggling casinos industry. The Trump Taj Mahal declined to say Sunday if the strike had cut into its business. McDevitt said casino traffic was suffering.

Unhappy workers are just one more sign of the city’s struggles. Once a thriving destination for tourists and gamblers, four of Atlantic City’s largest casinos shut their doors in 2014. Now the city government is struggling to stay solvent.

Although the casino bears the Trump name, presumptive republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has not been involved with it since 2009. Another well-known billionaire is currently behind the Trump Taj Mahal: Carl Icahn. His Icahn Enterprises rescued the casino out of bankruptcy in 2014.

McDevitt said there were signs of a turnaround after Icahn took over, and workers are expecting to regain some health care and pension benefits they lost during the bankruptcy proceedings.

“The current management team is making a real effort to put together a package, but they weren’t provided with enough money from parent company [Icahn Enterprise],” McDevitt said, adding that their latest offer included “a shadow” of the health care benefits other Atlantic City casino workers received.

Icahn Enterprises did not respond to CNNMoney’s request for comment Sunday. On Friday, CEO Tony Rodio called the union’s bargaining committee “hell-bent on trying to close” Trump Taj Mahal.

No further talks were scheduled as of Sunday evening.

Icahn Enterprises and Local 54 did manage to emerge with a deal Thursday that covers employees at the nearby Tropicana Casino.

Strikes loomed at several casinos in the city ahead of the holiday weekend, though a series of last-minute deals has left the Trump Taj Mahal as the only venue faced with a walkout.


Bangladesh’s huge garment industry tries to reassure foreign buyers

Bangladeshi_women_sewing_clothes

One of the poorest countries in Asia is also a global leader in a very specialized trade: Check the label on your t-shirt and there’s a good chance it says “Made in Bangladesh.”

This weekend, the country’s largest export industry was thrown into disarray after terrorists brutally murdered 20 people, nearly all of them foreigners, during an 11-hour siege of a trendy restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter.

The country’s garment producers are now racing to reassure major foreign fashion brands, mostly based in North America and Europe, that contracts will be honored and employees in Bangladesh will be protected.

“There will obviously be an impact,” said Faruque Hassan, senior vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. “But we are dependent on these brands, and we must overcome this situation.”

Foreign buyers are already reacting.

In Japan, which lost nine of its citizens in the attack, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing (FRCOF) has announced a suspension of all “unnecessary” business travel to Bangladesh. The company has 10 Japanese employees in the country.

H&M (HNNMY) said it has safety procedures in place for staff in Bangladesh, and it has also recommended that employees avoid unnecessary travel to the country.

Puma said it would continue to source products from Bangladesh, and was not restricting staff travel. “However, we will decide [travel] on a case by case basis, depending on how the situation is evolving,” the company said.

Hassan, who makes clothes for brands including U.S. Polo, Benetton and Marks & Spencer(MAKSY), said the garment association was organizing meetings with buyers to take place when Ramadan ends later this week.

Bangladesh has been a major beneficiary of a global search for cheaper clothes. In recent years, as wages boomed in traditional manufacturing hubs like China, more and more production has shifted to frontier markets such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The garment industry now makes up more than 80% of Bangladesh’s total exports.

While it employs millions, the industry has come under intense pressure over working conditions and pay.

In 2013, watchdog groups called for urgent action after more than 1,100 people were killed when a garment factory collapsed near Dhaka.

Now, the industry is confronted with a violent, external threat. The government of Bangladesh insists that ISIS does not have a presence in the country, but the terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group’s media arm has released photographs of the attackers, smiling and holding their guns, clearly taken before the assault — suggesting at least coordination with ISIS in Iraq or Syria.

Hassan said garment makers can help foreign clients understand that the attack is not an everyday situation.

“Buyers might be worried to come to Bangladesh,” Hassan said. “But many of these brands have been coming to Bangladesh for many years, and they know how welcoming the country has been.”

— Tim Lister, Yoko Wakatsuki and Stephanie Halasz contributed reporting.


Jay Z: From drug dealer to wheeler dealer

maxresdefault (1)

The world changed for Jay Z on June 25, 1996.

That’s the day his debut album “Reasonable Doubt” was released, dropping the needle on the start of what has been one of the most epic careers in the music industry.

But he didn’t stop there.

In the past 20 years the man who was born Shawn Corey Carter and who grew up in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects at a time when they were plagued by crime and drugs has gone from slinging drugs to taking over corporations. In May, Forbes estimated his net worth at $610 million, placing him at number three behind Sean”Diddy” Combs ($750 million) and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young ($710 million) on the list of Hip Hop’s Wealthiest Artists 2016. And now there are reports that Apple is in talks to buy his streaming service Tidal.

He’s a hustler, baby, we just want you to know.

Here are just some of the many hats the man who once famously rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business… man” has worn, all the while building on what he learned in the hood.

Drug dealer

The Jigga man has been very open about his past as an illegal pharmaceutical entrepreneur, both rapping about it and discussing it in interviews.

“I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he told Vanity Fair in 2013. “To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life.”

It helped prepare him for the cutthroat music industry, he has said. Though if you think it’s tough out here on the charts, it’s nothing compared to what Jay saw on the streets.

“At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small,” he said about drug dealing. “You’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.”

Rapper

Start a debate about the best rap artists in history and three names will always appear on the list: Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z. (Sorry, Nas.)

Jay has sold millions upon millions of records and was one of the pioneers who helped to define urban music in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

He’s won multiple awards including 21 Grammys and a Sports Emmy for outstanding music composition/direction/lyrics in recognition of his Super Bowl XLIV opener of his song “Run This Town” featuring singer Rihanna.

In 2013 he broke a Spotify record whern his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album was streamed 14 million times.

This from a man who once famously “retired” from rap.

Music executive

Every successful dealer knows the key is controlling your product.

In 1996 Jay Z formed Roc-A-Fella Records with friends Damon “Dame” Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke specifically to market the rappers music.

Over the years their artist roster grew to include such names as Kanye West, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel.

Jay Z and his partners sold Roc-A-Fella to Island Def Jam and he was appointed to a new role as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings in 2004.

In 2008 the rapper founded an entertainment company, Roc Nation, which includes a record label that is home to artists like Drake, and Rihanna.

A strong crew is everything in the game.

Partner

Before there was ever any talk of a potential deal between Apple and Tidal, Jay was all about streaming music.

In 2013 he strategically partnered with Samsung to make his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album available first via download on specific Samsung phones over the July 4th weekend.

It was consistent with other high profile partnerships he’s made throughout his career: His Roc Nation label came about in part thanks to a $150 million profit sharing deal with entertainment giant Live Nation.

In 2015 Roc Nation announced it would be teaming with Philymack, the management firm that oversees pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato.

“We sat down and dreamt about what the future could hold if we partnered,” the rapper said at the time. “Our views aligned on nurturing, growth and allowing creatives to stay true to their voice. That dream we are living today and it’s been amazing for all parties. We look forward to what tomorrow brings.”

Investor

Who could ever forget that the rapper once owned a small part of the New Jersey Nets, and helped make them the Brooklyn Nets?

He is credited with or blamed for the creation of last year’s “Jay Z rule” which said teams can only have 25 or fewer individual owners with each owning at least a one percent stake.According to Grantland, Jay Z only owned 0.15 percent of the team before he sold his stake to Jason Kidd and an unidentified investor in 2013.

That same year Jay Z formed Roc Nation Sports, which manages professional athletes.

He’s also been savvy enough to get pieces of various businesses over the years including the 40/40 Club sports-bar chain. And he’s an investor in several other restaurants, starting with New York hotspot The Spotted Pig.

Trendsetter

“I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can” he rapped in his 2009 hit “Empire State of Mind” and he’s not wrong.

His early understanding that the street style of hip hop was one fans wanted to emulate led him and Dash to establish the urban apparel line Rocawear early on. He cashed in on it when he reportedly sold the rights to Iconix Brand Group in 2007 for $204 million.


Miss Missouri makes history as first openly gay Miss America contestant

Flag_of_Missouri.svg

Smiling as she sits in a float at St. Louis’ annual pride parade, Erin O’Flaherty gleams with a crown atop her head, a prize she clinched after being crowned Miss Missouri last month.

For O’Flaherty, being a part of the event had personal significance, as she is the first openly gay Miss America contestant in the pageant’s 95-year history.

Her experience in the run-up to this September’s Miss America pageant, she said, has been an atmosphere that is nothing short of inclusive.

“The Miss America organization has done a great job of wrapping their arms around me,” O’Flaherty told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield. “Everyone who I’ve come into contact with has been nothing but supportive.”

She added that she has never encountered any problems with fellow contestants, and that everyone has become lifelong friends, “bonding through the process.”

O’Flaherty has previously voiced concern over the lack of LGBT representation in the public sphere, and her personal platform issue for this year’s competition will be suicide prevention, an issue both inside and outside her community.

While competing in the pageant, O’Flaherty said, she wants to use the national stage to foster a greater conversation about suicide.

Working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Trevor Project, O’Flaherty said she hopes to be a trailblazer for ending the stigma that often surrounds suicide and mental illness.

“I lost someone to suicide when I was 13,” O’Flaherty told Banfield. “It changed my life. I hope that by sharing my story I can inspire others to speak out on their experiences, because suicide is a subject that is often taboo.”

Sanders’ campaign is over, yet Secret Service motorcade roars on

19197596204_4ff334fa15_b

Bernie Sanders is back to his old day job, trading the booming applause of his campaign rallies to the far more tedious work of the Senate.

“I have a parliamentary inquiry!” Sanders shouted on the Senate floor one night last week, testing the patience of his colleagues, who were eager to leave the Capitol and start their holiday break.

But just off the Senate floor and across the Capitol, one vestige of his presidential campaign remains: his Secret Service detail. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

Protecting a presidential candidate costs about $40,000 a day, a federal official familiar with the Homeland Security budget told CNN. For Sanders, that’s more than a half-million dollars since the last primary on June 14. The cost could grow by nearly $2 million if he stays in the race through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia later.

The federal official said it’s difficult to tally exact costs, since some agents are working on other projects simultaneously, but the overall amount spent on Sanders is far higher when calculating the weeks of protection he received after the nomination was effectively out of his reach, as Hillary Clinton surpassed him in the delegate count.

Sanders waved off questions on the matter.

“I think security is probably something we shouldn’t be talking about too much,” Sanders told CNN last week, walking with his protective detail through the halls of the Senate office buildings.

But many of his fellow senators are talking about it. Several told CNN privately they were stunned to see Sanders at the Capitol with such an entourage, particularly because the building is already secured by U.S. Capitol Police. One colleague, who declined to be identified to avoid publicly talking ill of a fellow senator, bluntly said: “Bernie’s on an ego kick.”

The Secret Service is also stretched thin, preparing for two additional high-profile protectees as both parties are preparing to announce their vice presidential candidates in July.

A spokesman for Sanders declined to discuss why the senator has not relinquished his Secret Service protection and his around-the-clock coverage in Washington, at home in Vermont or wherever he goes.

Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that active presidential candidates should be protected. He stopped short of sharply criticizing Sanders, but said he hoped it would be resolved soon.

“At some point in time, hopefully Senator Sanders will realize he’s not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and Secret Service protection can be removed,” Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said.

Asked whether it was a wise use of taxpayer money, Johnson said: “That’s going to be up to Sen. Sanders.

Sanders started receiving Secret Service coverage in February, between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, as his candidacy soared and his crowds swelled. He had several close calls with protestors along the way, where his agents rushed in to protect him from potential harm.

A spokeswoman for the Secret Service declined to comment on the duration or cost of Sanders’ protection.

Department guidelines say a candidate loses coverage when he or she formally drops out of the race or suspend their campaign. Unless Sanders does that, his armed detail will likely surround him until Clinton is formally nominated at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in late July.

Sanders has acknowledged he won’t be the nominee and has said he will likely vote for Clinton, but advisers say he is keeping his candidacy alive to influence the party platform at the convention.

The Secret Service is stretched particularly thin during a presidential campaign and Sanders’ decision not to suspend his campaign has raised some eyebrows inside the agency. Many believe his coverage would end after the District of Columbia primary ended the voting season June 14.

“We protect candidates and I don’t really think he can be defined as a candidate at this point,” said a person involved in Secret Service protection, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that Sanders’ decision seemed “unprecedented.”

On Capitol Hill, Sanders’ small motorcade turned heads last week, particularly when many rank-and-file senators drive themselves or hop into the front seat of an aide’s car after votes are finished for the night. Only congressional leaders receive a protective detail and transportation.Several Democratic senators told CNN they didn’t feel comfortable discussing Sanders’ security. But politically speaking, they said it was time for Sanders to step aside.”I love Bernie. He’s a good senator and he has certainly contributed in this presidential campaign,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida. “But it is now time for him to stand down.”

Trump VP search enters home stretch as pick likely next week

hqdefault

Donald Trump’s much anticipated vice presidential pick is expected to be announced next week, a Trump adviser told CNN Tuesday.

The presumptive Republican nominee will choose from a narrowing list of potential running mates that represent a wide range of styles.
Does Trump want to double the bombast by picking a brash straight-talker who mirrors his own style, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich?
Does he prefer someone whose Washington experience and message discipline would counter his freelancing, like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence?
Or does he want to elevate a rising star, like Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst or Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton?

Just two weeks from the Republican National Convention, Trump’s vice presidential search — and speculation about who he’ll pick — is at a fever pitch.

Trump met in person over the holiday weekend with Pence and Ernst, and kicked up speculation when he praised Ernst and Cotton on Twitter — something he did again on Tuesday.

 

“It was great spending time with @joniernst yesterday. She has done a fantastic job for the people of Iowa and U.S. Will see her again!” Trump tweeted.

 

And on Tuesday another oft-mentioned potential running mate, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, will campaign with Trump in North Carolina. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will also introduce the presumptive Republican nominee at a Raleigh rally.
But Trump’s campaign has been quiet about who he’ll pick — and when he’ll make an announcement.
His former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who is now a CNN political contributor, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar Sunday on “State of the Union” that the key to Trump’s selection will be his comfort level.

 

“It’s really going to come down to the personal relationship that he and Mr. Trump could have to find out if they could work well together,” said Lewandowski, who was fired last month.
He emphasized the importance of Trump tapping a politician with ties to Washington, who could help advance his legislative agenda in Congress.
“Having someone who has those relationships in Washington is going to be a critical component of his presidency,” he said.
Pence, Ernst and Cotton were late additions to the vice presidential speculation — with NBC News reporting late last week that Pence was under consideration and sources telling CNN that Ernst is also being considered.

 

Pence and his wife Karen met with Trump at his New Jersey golf club on Saturday. The huddle came as a source told CNN some in Trump’s inner circle are pushing for Pence.

 

Michael Caputo, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign, echoed that sentiment in an interview with CNN’s John Berman on Monday.
“I am a Mike Pence guy,” Caputo said. “First of all, he puts away some of the problems we have with the conservatives in the party who fear that Donald Trump is too moderate on certain policy issues.”
Caputo added: “He is very likeable. People across the country involved in Republican politics who found him to be a very personable man. In addition, he has got no question as a leader of the Republican Conference in the House, before he left the United States Congress, he brings the lawmaking ability, the ability to work the House and work the Senate, that Donald Trump doesn’t bring as a man who doesn’t come from a career in politics.”
Pence was the No. 3 House Republican, leading the conference and holding particular sway with social conservatives and tea partiers, before departing Washington to run for governor of Indiana in 2012.
He wouldn’t comment on being considered as Trump’s running mate Sunday night in Indiana.

 

“I love my job. I love my country. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” he told reporters there.
Ernst, meanwhile, came onto the political scene in the 2014 midterm elections — gaining national attention when she compared her plans for Washington to castrating pigs on Iowa farms.
She also has an advantage others on Trump’s list don’t: Location. Iowa, unlike Pence’s Indiana, Gingrich’s Georgia, Christie’s New Jersey and Cotton’s Arkansas, is a swing state.

 

After the meeting on Monday, Ernst said she had “a good conversation with Donald Trump.”
“We discussed what I am hearing from Iowans as I travel around the state on my 99 county tour, and the best path forward for our country,” she said in a statement.
“I will continue to share my insights with Donald about the need to strengthen our economy, keep our nation safe, and ensure America is always a strong, stabilizing force around the globe.”

 

Trump also doled out some conspicuous praise for Pence and Cotton on Twitter Monday.

 

Trump tweeted his approval of Cotton’s performance in an interview on Meet the Press on Sunday: “Senator Tom Cotton was great on Meet the Press yesterday. Despite a totally one-sided interview by Chuck Todd, the end result was solid!”

 

Cotton discussed on NBC his support for Trump, but when asked to explain why he should be president, the Arkansas senator said only that “Donald Trump can ultimately make the case for himself.”
Pressed on why his support seemed less than full-throated, the hawkish Arkansas freshman jokingly offered that “maybe I just don’t demonstrate enthusiasm much in life, especially in such dangerous times as these.”
Gingrich, the former House speaker, was critical of Trump — but also laid out a hypothesis for the campaign against Hillary Clinton — on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on Saturday.
“Trump’s job is frankly to quit screwing up and get the election down to three or four big issues, all of which come down to a single concept: ‘enough,'” Gingrich said.

 

e made the case against taking the job, too, noting that he has a “terrific life right now” and said if you’re vice president, “you actually have to work.”

 

“I used to be a congressman. I know what it’s like to deal with congressmen. I don’t know I want to spend the next four to eight years of my life dealing with congressmen,” he said. “I think I’d rather read books and write books and make movies.”

 

Trump could announce his choice of a running mate before the party’s convention to help drum up excitement heading into Cleveland, a source familiar with the process told CNN on Friday. The billionaire and his aides had previously said the pick would likely be announced at the convention, which starts July 18.


FBI director: Hillary Clinton ‘extremely careless’ but no charges recommended

Comey-FBI-Portrait

FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state — but he added Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in handling classified information.

“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey announced after a lengthy recap of the investigation the FBI conducted.
Comey’s decision not to recommend charges likely removes the threat of prosecution in the middle of Clinton’s campaign for the presidency, but the political fallout will continue.
Comey delivered a stunning tongue-lashing of Clinton and her State Department colleagues. His stinging critique came just hours before Clinton is scheduled to campaign with President Barack Obama for the first time this election season.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information,” he said, “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Clinton’s presumptive Republican opponent Donald Trump blasted Comey’s decision an example of a rigged system.

“The system is rigged. General (David) Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment,” Trump tweeted.

Comey made clear at the outset that he had not forewarned the Department of Justice or the administration what he was about to do.

“They do not know what I’m about to say,” he said at the opening of his remarks.

Comey said that the FBI “painstakingly” combed through every bit of Clinton’s multiple servers and mobile devices that they could from her four-year tenure as secretary of state. He described a series of obstacles, including for example a server that had its software wiped.

“It was like removing the frame from a huge jigsaw puzzle and then dumping all the pieces on the floor. … We searched through all of it,” he said.

Comey said of the 30,000 emails that Clinton’s team turned over to the State Department, 110 emails in 52 email chains were determined to have contained classified information “at the time they were sent or received,” Comey said. Eight of those chains contained information considered “top secret,” the highest level of classification.

That’s in addition to 2,000 emails that were “upclassified,” or determined to have classified information only in hindsight.

Comey also said the FBI found “thousands” of emails that were work-related but deleted and not given to the State Department, either by regular purging by Clinton or officials during her tenure or mistaken deletion by her lawyers removing personal emails before turning over work-related emails to the State Department.

Three of those were classified at the time, he said.

However, Comey said there was not evidence of any kind of coverup in regards to those emails.

“We believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence that there was no intentional misconduct in relation to that sorting effort,” Comey said.

He also noted that while the FBI could find no direct evidence of an intrusion into Clinton’s server by hostile foreign governments, given that she corresponded with individuals whose accounts were compromised and that the server was not secured by government protections, and that she used her email in hostile foreign territories, “It is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s email account.”

Ultimately, Comey said his recommendation against charges stems from the fact that there is no precedent for charging someone under similar circumstances.

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said, saying the FBI could not find a single case in which a person was charged with crimes for similar actions.

He also emphatically stated that the investigation was conducted fairly and unbiased.

“This investigation was done honestly, competently and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear,” Comey said. “Opinions are irrelevant. … We did our investigation the right way. Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way.”


Medina bombing is an assault on Islam itself

A_packed_house_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_English

Medina is a city eclipsed only by Mecca in the Muslim’s sacred imagination.

Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on Medina’s Great Mosque, usually before or after the hajj pilgrimage, or during the last ten nights of Ramadan, keen to visit the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed, to pray in his mosque, to sit where he once sat, in this holiest time of year.

That very same mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber in these last nights of Ramadan.
Though there is yet no claim of responsibility, it seems hard to imagine that anyone but ISIS was behind the attack. Al Qaeda is vile, but Al Qaeda also rejected the forerunner of ISIS for being too violent. There’s no doubt that this was an unprecedented assault on the world’s Muslims, many of whom come from all corners of the world to Medina. But it was also an assault on Islam itself.

The Muslim Big Three

The Islamic faith holds three cities most sacred. The third is Jerusalem, our first direction of prayer, the site of the Dome of the Rock, an octagonal building from which Mohammed ascended to heaven to be received before God.

In Jerusalem, Mohammed also led all the prophets in prayer, an appropriate choice of venue. Moses and Joshua tried to reach the city. David ruled it, and his son Solomon after him. Jesus and John the Baptist lived in the shadow of Jerusalem.

Mecca is the most sacred. It’s our current direction of prayer.

We believe Mecca was founded where, ages ago, Adam and Eve reunited after their exile from the garden. They built the first mosque, or place to worship God, where the Ka’ba is today, a cubical structure — it literally means”cube” — the original form of which we date to Abraham. With his son Ishmael, who was also a prophet, Abraham erected a simple stone structure, the first House of God, and called humanity to come worship the Divine.

It is that call that Muslims honor with the hajj pilgrimage. Traveling in the millions — thanks to jet aircraft and the rise of middle classes worldwide — to circle the Ka’ba and follow in the footsteps of our spiritual ancestors. Besides making the hajj pilgrimage, many Muslims make it a point to visit Medina, which is Islam’s second sacred city.

The exile

Mohammed began preaching the religion of Islam in the year 610, in his native Mecca. He was descended from Abraham, and taught that he followed in Jesus’ footsteps. In him, the children of Ishmael and Isaac were reunited.

But though he earned followers, like the first Caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar, their numbers were few. Early Muslims were often quite far down on the social hierarchy of the time — many former or current slaves, women (treated especially poorly during that time), or they did not belong to tribes, all of which meant they had few protectors. At first, these early Muslims were mocked for their faith, but soon they found themselves humiliated, and eventually some of them were tortured and even killed.

Mohammed’s own tribe was driven out of Mecca and placed under boycott. The stress placed on his family was fatal: In the year 619, his wife and uncle died, unable to bear the persecution any longer. Soon after, though, an unexpected opportunity presented itself. Leaders from the city of Yathrib, some 250 miles north, wanted to become Muslim, and invited Mohammed to rule their city, which had been bitterly divided by tribal infighting.

Mecca’s tiny Muslim community fled under cover of night; Islam’s exodus was so critical to the religion that our calendar begins with that year of exodus to Yathrib. That city was eventually renamed Medina, which just means “city” — as in “city of the Prophet.” (Arabic should win points for just getting to the point.) Mohammed lived out nearly the rest of his life in Medina, which became his beloved new home, his safe haven.
When Mohammed died, he was buried in his home, which had been attached to the city’s Spartan mosque.

His successors ruled from Medina. The first grand Muslim dynasties moved the capital away, but built ever more elaborate tombs over his grave, expanding his original humble mosque until it has become the massive Great Mosque we see today, an impossibly lavish, expensive and enormous set of columned arcades, huge chambers from inside which hundreds of thousands can comfortably fit, sheltered from the fierce heat without.

But the heart of Medina and the Mosque is still the southernmost end, where behind three grills lie the tombs of Mohammed, and the first caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar. Some Muslims claim there is a fourth grave, awaiting Jesus, Islam’s messiah, who upon his return to the world will live out a normal lifespan and die as all people eventually do. Medina is our past, you see. But also our future.

The spectacle of savagery

There’s a Muslim tradition that says that, before Jesus descends, the Antichrist will have free reign over the earth, filling it with injustice and evil. But he won’t be allowed to enter Mecca or Medina. Perhaps it’s this conviction that explains why so many Muslims I am talking to right now simply cannot believe what has just happened.

A suicide bombing in Medina?

It’s true that ISIS practices a vicious violence with a cold, cruel political logic, seeking to exploit and aggravate existing social tensions: They call it “the management of savagery.” Elsewhere it means “the elimination of the gray zone,” forcing people to choose sides. Going to war with pluralism, tolerance, democracy.

But if Muslims believe their sacred cities are off-limits, they’re in for a rude awakening.

Earlier Saudi leaders even attacked the two sacred cities they now govern, as did Muslim dynasts as far back as the 7th century, not decades after Mohammed’s death. Jerusalem, of course, is under Israeli control, and not infrequently the site of terrible violence.

In the late 1960s, in fact, an Australian Christian tried to set fire to the Dome of the Rock, an incident that encouraged the formation of what we now know as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s second-largest intergovernmental body, which brings together 57 mostly Muslim nations to cooperate on issues of shared concern.

After Monday’s attack, which targeted one of Islam’s holiest sites — revered by Sunni and Shia alike — in the last nights of Ramadan, a man blowing himself up not very far from worshipers come to pay their respects to Islam’s last prophet, I am met first by a feeling of numbness. Sadness. Despair.

These attacks were most likely very coordinated. Istanbul to Dhaka, Baghdad to Medina. It’s a global jihadist counterattack, violence across the heartland of the Muslim world, more and more innocents dying. Maybe it’s because ISIS is losing territory.

They want the region to know that defeating them will have consequences.

But I am also outraged. And in that anger, I find a glimmer of hope, a promise of a better future to come, though not without great pain, suffering and sacrifice first. What do Dhaka and Baghdad really have in common, except that radical groups have exploited years of failed governance, religious extremism and economic stagnation to establish a foothold?

Because the extremists don’t see anything but us — mainstream Islam — and them.

They’ve picked their sides, and they have their vision. Can the incomparably greater number of Muslims in the world who are so rightly horrified today come together with their own vision — which includes stamping out the extremists who seem to hate Islam, and Muslims, and the Prophet Mohammed, more than anyone else?

The Muslim world will have to work together in ways that seem hard to imagine right now. It’s true that, right now, we don’t have the institutions, the leaders, the visions, to make this happen. But we will have them. Because there is no opting out. The contest is existential.

Some Muslims shrug and say they’ve got nothing to do with it. But it — extremism — has something to do with them. Extremism wants to kill us. To incinerate our mosques, erase our traditions, murder our artists, even attack our Mohammed, “habib Allah”–the beloved of God. Some anger is wrong. Some anger is righteous.
Some Muslims got irresponsibly angry, and a few turned to terrible, unacceptable violence, when the Prophet Mohammed was but mocked by a cartoonist and a satirist.

I’ve got to wonder how Muslims will react now that someone tried to blow up his mosque.


After night of burning and bombing, mourning in Baghdad

maxresdefault

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) They came in groups, or individually, to the still-smoldering wreckage that was, just a few days ago, a busy stretch of road in the Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada. As they approached the charred skeletons that line the street, their faces go slack with shock. Jaws drop.

 

Among them was Sami Hadi, a government employee looking for two of his cousins and their three children who had come here Saturday evening to buy clothing for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan.
Sami had scoured floor after floor for a trace of them. “There are only charred pieces of flesh,” he told me, his voice flat with exhaustion. “We can’t recognize anyone.”
It’s an overused cliché that Baghdad is accustomed to violence and bloodshed. It’s not. Death is death, and when it visits your home and rips away the lives of loved ones, that pain is as intense here as it is anywhere else.
Sami actually did find a trace of his relatives. He found a phone that looked familiar, checked the SIM card and discovered it belonged to one of his cousins. With that discovery, he left, refusing to say another word.
Um Fadhil, a woman in her 60s, continues to search, so far in vain. She had spent more than 24 hours making her way around the city in search of her 29-year old son, Issam. He was last seen here with friends, shopping for clothing.
“I went to the hospitals: nothing,” she said. “I went to all the morgues: nothing. All I saw was burned bodies.”
Police say that of the bodies they’ve recovered, 81 are so badly burned they’re simply beyond recognition. The only way to make a positive identification will be through DNA testing. And they’re not just finding bodies. The stores hit in the blast are littered with body parts, slowly being collected in plastic bags and bed sheets by volunteers.
So you have the authorities in possession of dozens of unrecognizable bodies, and hundreds, perhaps thousands of Baghdad residents searching for loved ones who, for all intents and purposes, disappeared off the face of the earth without a trace Saturday night.

U.S. has the most untapped oil in the world

oil-106913_960_720

Move over, Saudi Arabia and Russia. America now has more untapped oil than any other country on the planet.

That’s according to a new report from Rystad Energy that estimates the U.S. is sitting on an incredible 264 billion barrels of oil reserves. It includes oil in existing fields, new projects, recent discoveries as well as projections in undiscovered fields.

More than half of America’s untapped oil is unconventional shale oil, according to Rystad. Shale oil is the previously-unreachable crude that, thanks to fracking and new technology, has reshaped the global energy landscape and vaulted the U.S. into the upper echelon of global oil producers.

“This has been a revolution. Ten years ago nobody would have dreamt this would have been the result,” Jarand Rystad, CEO of Rystad Energy, told CNNMoney.

The findings suggest the U.S. could shoulder even more of the weight of global oil production in the future, especially as prices recover. U.S. output has declined modestly over the past year as a result of oil prices crashing to levels that aren’t profitable for all but the best shale oil fields.

But there are seas of oil just waiting to get tapped once oil prices rebound. Texas, home to the Eagle Ford, Permian and Barnett shale oil plays, holds more than 60 billion barrels of shale oil alone, Rystad estimates. That’s more than the untapped oil in all of China. There are also vast sums of oil beneath the ground in North Dakota, where the Bakken shale oil play sits.

Thanks to the shale oil boom, the U.S. is now sitting on more oil reserves than Russia, which Rystad estimates as having 256 billion barrels of untapped oil. The next-richest countries in terms of oil after that are: Saudi Arabia (212 billion), Canada (167 billion), Iran (143 billion) and Brazil (120 billion).

Rystad, an independent research firm based in Norway, argues its estimate does a better job of capturing the real picture of global oil reserves than more conservative metrics often cited.

For example, the closely-followed BP Statistical Review pegs U.S. oil reserves at just 55 billion barrels, compared with 301 billion barrels for Venezuela. But Rystad notes that BP relies on numbers reported by national authorities and Venezuela’s figures include undiscovered oil. Rystad also points out that countries often exaggerate their oil reserve figures to inflate their standings within OPEC.

“The upside potential is much larger in the United States,” Rystad said.

All told, the world has 2.1 trillion barrels of untapped oil, or 70 times the current global annual production rate, Rystad estimates.

While that may sound like a ton of oil, Rystad argues it’s actually proof that “there is a relatively limited amount of recoverable oil left on the planet.”

That’s a big deal given the fact global oil demand continues to grow, even in today’s sluggish economy. Many expect that growth to remain steady or even accelerate as people in fast-growing economies like India and China buy cars.

“Oil alone cannot satisfy the growing need for individual transport,” Rystad concludes.