Sunday, February 25, 2018

Man used hunting knife in brutal slaying at Massachusetts library, authorities say

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A man armed with a hunting knife stabbed a woman to death Saturday inside a public library in Massachusetts, authorities said.

The suspect — identified as Jeffrey Yao, 23 — allegedly approached the 22-year-old woman from behind as she was seated at a table in the reading room of Winchester Public Library, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

The blade was said to be 10 inches long and the suspect reportedly stabbed the woman multiple times.

During the attack, the young woman suffered injuries to her head and upper torso, Ryan said. As she struggled toward the door, onlookers reportedly tried to help her escape.

One bystander, a 77-year-old man, was also injured in the attack, suffering a non-life-threatening stab wound to an arm, Ryan said.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the attack and were working to determine a motive, a news release from the district attorney’s office said.

It wasn’t clear if Yao knew the woman, but the suspect was “known to police,” Ryan said. The woman’s identity was being withheld until her family could be notified, she added.

The suspect was charged with murder and armed assault with intent to murder, the news release said. He was being held without bail and was expected to appear in court Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mother, daughter thwart armed robbery attempt at Oklahoma liquor store

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Shots rang out during an armed robbery at an Oklahoma liquor store on Thursday night after a man threatened a mother and daughter for the money in the register, Tulsa World reported.

The scary scene happened at Forest Acres Liquor in Tulsa while Tina Ring, 53, and her daughter Ashley Lee, 30, were working, the outlet said.

Surveillance video, obtained by Tulsa World, captured the moment the hooded suspect walked into the liquor store and pointed what appears to be a weapon at Lee, who was behind the counter.

After a brief exchange behind the register, the suspect rummages around before ultimately disappearing from the video. Lee’s mother then appears, at which point Lee grabs something from beneath the counter and hands it to her, the video showed.

Ring told Tulsa World on Friday that during the incident, her biggest concern was Lee’s safety.

“I didn’t want him to hurt my daughter,” Ring said. “That was my main thought.”

“All I was thinking was ‘Just give him the money and go,’ and next thing I know, I see him back in my face,” she added.

The video showed women hiding behind the counter. After the suspect reappeared, Ring appeared to fire a weapon a number of times, continuing as the suspect retreated from the building.

The suspect soon reappeared and, after seemingly getting shot, gets into a physical fight with Ring over the weapon.

Lee then appears to fire a second weapon at the thief, giving herself and her mother the opportunity to leave the building.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Ring told Tulsa World. “I don’t think I have really processed everything yet.”

The suspected robber was identified as Tyrone Lee, a man in his thirties, Tulsa World reported, citing Sgt. Brandon Watkins of the Tulsa Police Department’s robbery unit. The suspect is not related to the store employee, Ashley, the outlet said.

According to the department’s Twitter page, a man “matching his description” turned up at a local hospital with several gunshot wounds.

Trump talks Dems' memo, guns and border wall in exclusive interview with Fox News

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President Donald Trump urged the nation “to all come together” Saturday night as he discussed the Democrats’ FISA rebuttal memo, potential new gun legislation and plans for a border wall in an exclusive interview with Fox News.

Speaking with Jeanine Pirro, host of “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Trump said the Democrats’ FISA rebuttal memo “verified” the contents of Republican U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes’ memo, which was released previously.

The president asserted that that was likely the reason why Democrats didn’t push hard for their own memo to be released.  

Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, asserts in his document, made public Feb. 2, that the FBI may have relied on questionable sources to obtain a surveillance warrant in connection with the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Democrats’ memo, released Saturday, defends the FBI’s actions.

Pirro noted that months of investigation into possible ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign and administration have not led to any “reference of collusion.” 

“There is no collusion,” Trump replied.

“I don’t want to sound braggadocious, but I was a far better candidate than [Hillary Clinton]. … Frankly, that’s what it was all about. It was nothing to do with Russians,” he said.

“I don’t want to sound braggadocious, but I was a far better candidate than [Hillary Clinton]. … Frankly, that’s what it was all about. It was nothing to do with Russians.”

– President Donald Trump

When asked about Twitter comments by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a harsh critic of the president, Trump responded by calling for national unity rather than division.

“We need intelligence that brings our nation together and a lot of people are tearing our nation apart. … We have to come together as a nation.”

‘I get things done’

The president was also asked about the accomplishments of his administration during its first year — and what made them possible.

“I think that I’ve had a lot of good ideas and I have a lot of energy. I get things done,” Trump said.

Trump added that the Republicans’ tax cut bill — signed into law in December — was a key reason why his approval ratings were high, but suggested that cuts in regulations may have been even more popular.

 “I don’t think any administration has done as much as we’ve done in the first year, I don’t think it’s even close,” Trump said.

Action on guns

He also spoke about gun regulation in wake of the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Fla.

“I’ve spoke to many senators, many congressman … and I think we’re going to have a great bill put forward very soon having to do with background checks,” Trump said.

But he added there was “no bigger champion of the Second Amendment” protecting the rights of gun owners than him — and reiterated his stance that teachers should be able to protect schools through with “concealed [carry] permits.”

Trump said that assuring gun purchasers’ mental stability would also be a strong part of improving background checks.

“Somebody who is mentally ill should not have a weapon, should not have a gun,” he said. “We’re drawing up very strong legislation right now having to do with background checks, mental illness. I think you’re going to have tremendous support.”

‘I’d like to have a parade’

Trump also spoke about his idea of having a military parade to celebrate the nation’s service members and veterans.

“I’d like to have a parade, a lot of the generals would like to have a parade to celebrate what we’re doing,” he said, adding that the event could possibly be held July 4 or on Veterans Day in November.

Trump also discussed his progress with immigration legislation, saying that although Democrats have agreed to support a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, he “needs more” in order to finalze a comprehensive immigration plan.

“We need something to do with chain migration, we need something to do with visa lottery … We want people to come in through merit,” he said.

Trump ended with some thoughts on first daughter Ivanka Trump’s visit to South Korea for the Winter Olympics.

“There is no better representative we can have go over to a pretty tough place right now in the world,” he said. “We cannot have a better, smarter representative.”

Democrats' new Russia memo is an anti-Trump political attack

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It should come as no surprise that partisan anti-Trump Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued a partisan anti-Trump memo Saturday attempting to rebut an earlier memo by committee Republicans dealing with abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court.

The new Democratic memo – examining how the FISA Court approved surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page – was part of an ongoing round-the-clock campaign to weaken President Trump, delegitimize his election, and make him look like a Russian puppet who needs to be impeached.

Democrats are basing their political strategy to win back congressional majorities in November on turning the American people against President Trump. To further this objective, they produced a memo that reads like talking points for one of the anti-Trump tirades that take up much of the day and night on CNN or MSNBC.

In fact, the Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. – who few people had ever heard of before last year – has parlayed the endless Democratic conspiracy theories against President Trump into TV stardom. He gave 21 hours of TV interviews in 2017 to push his narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The release of the Democratic memo was delayed because the Democrats deliberately included highly classified information that was difficult to declassify, so they could cry foul when the Trump administration refused to release this information. As a result, several sentences of the declassified memo were blacked out.

The new Democratic memo … was part of an ongoing round-the-clock campaign to weaken President Trump, delegitimize his election, and make him look like a Russian puppet who needs to be impeached.

Typical for a Schiff media interview, the Democratic rebuttal starts off with wild accusations against Republicans for “a transparent effort to undermine” the FBI, Justice Department, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and congressional Russia investigations.

Among the major points of the rebuttal, the Democrats claim:

(1) The Justice Department followed proper procedures and had compelling national security reasons for seeking a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance of Carter Page.

(2) The FISA Court was properly informed about the partisan sponsorship of the Steele dossier, a series of memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

(3) The Steele dossier did not drive the FBI investigation of Page or a FISA warrant application to spy on him.

The Democratic rebuttal tries to justify the Justice Department’s October 2016 FISA warrant application to spy on Page with sensationalistic claims that he was on the FBI’s radar for years due to his alleged contacts with Russian spies.

The rebuttal also makes claims about Page’s interactions with Russians in mid-2016, when he reportedly was offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It claims a supposed Russian-linked source told Page that Russia had thousands of Clinton’s emails that it could leak to hurt her campaign.

However, many of Page’s alleged 2016 interactions with Russians have not been corroborated. Some come from the Steele dossier which, despite claims in the rebuttal, is still uncorroborated. Parts of the dossier have been shown to be untrue.

The Democratic rebuttal also omits that Page had a brief, low-level role in the Trump campaign and was disparaged by a Russian intelligence officer in 2015 as “an idiot.”

Like Schiff’s frequent TV news interviews, the rebuttal misrepresents or omits many inconvenient facts. Two of these make the entire rebuttal impossible to take seriously.

First, the Republican memo said that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified in a closed session in December 2017 that no warrant to spy on Page would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information. This is one of the most crucial points in the Republican memo, but the Democrats ignored it.

Instead, the Democratic rebuttal dances around McCabe’s statement by stating that other information drove the FBI investigation. The Democratic memo says the Justice Department “provided additional information obtained through multiple corroborated sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting” in the FISA warrant application.

This is a major omission. Either McCabe did or did not say the Steele dossier was the crucial information that drove the FISA warrant request.

The committee’s Republicans should declassify the transcript of McCabe’s remarks to expose what is very likely a huge Democratic misrepresentation.

Second, the Democratic rebuttal engages in verbal gymnastics to dispute Republican claims that the Justice Department failed to inform the FISA Court about the political sponsorship of the Steele dossier.

The rebuttal tries to do this by citing a vague sentence from a footnote in the October 2016 FISA warrant request that said: “The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate 1’s [Donald Trump’s] campaign.”

The “identified U.S. person” was Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, a company that was paid by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and in turn contracted with Steele to produce the dossier critical of Trump. This was not revealed to the FISA Court.

This gobbledygook on the FBI “speculating” that an unidentified U.S. person was seeking information to discredit the Trump campaign was designed to conceal from the FISA Court that the Steele memo was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Incredibly, the Democratic rebuttal has no references whatsoever to the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton campaign.

In fact, the footnote cited by the Democrats strengthens the Republican claim that the October FISA warrant request omitted crucial information on the veracity of the Steele dossier.

The FISA judge obviously should have been told that a political party and a presidential campaign from one party funded a dossier to justify a FISA warrant to spy on a former member of a presidential campaign of the other political party. The Democrats’ claim that the Justice Department “accurately” informed the court about this matter is laughable.

The highly misleading Democratic rebuttal is already having the intended effect by giving talking heads on TV news shows talking points to claim that the rebuttal disproved the Republican memo and provides evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.

Expect Adam Schiff to be on TV as often as he can in coming days claiming his memo corrects the record. But the reality is that the Democratic rebuttal is full of the same unsubstantiated partisan claims that Schiff and other House Intelligence Committee Democrats have been making for over a year. It fails to rebut any of the serious allegations made by the committee’s Republicans.

The bottom line: don’t believe Adam Schiff when he hawks this fake rebuttal. He didn’t lay a glove on the Republican memo on serious abuses of the FISA process by the Justice Department, and the FBI to undermine the Trump presidential campaign.
 

Sridevi, Bollywood leading lady of '80s and '90s, dies at 54

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Sridevi, Bollywood’s leading lady of the 1980s and ’90s who redefined stardom for actresses in India, has died at age 54.

The actress was described as the first female superstar in India’s male-dominated film industry. She used one name, like many leading ladies of her generation, and was known for her comic timing and her dancing skills, a great asset in the song-and-dance melodramas that are a staple of mainstream Indian cinema.

Sridevi died Saturday in Dubai due to cardiac arrest, her brother-in-law Sanjay Kapoor confirmed to Indian Express online. She had been in Dubai to attend a wedding in her extended family.

Indian political leaders and entertainers posted condolences and recollections of her work, with many colleagues and fans expressing shock at the sudden news.

Sridevi began acting as a child in regional cinema in India’s south and made her debut in Hindi-language Bollywood films in the late ’70s.

Her most famous films included “Mr. India,” in which she played a reporter, and “Chandni,” where she played a woman choosing between two men who loved her. She played dual roles of a woman and her daughter in “Lamhe,” or “Moments” in 1991.

She stopped acting for several years after her marriage to film producer Boney Kapoor but made a well-received comeback in 2012 with “English Vinglish,” about a middle-aged woman learning English.

She is survived by her husband and two daughters.

US sailor at Camp Pendleton dies after being struck by helicopter blade

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A U.S. sailor at Camp Pendleton in California who was critically injured Wednesday when he was struck by a helicopter’s rotor blade died early Saturday morning.

Military officials said the unidentified service member succumbed from his injuries at Scripps La Jolla Medical Facility, the Orange County Register reported.

The accident happened at 6:10 p.m. Wednesday at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, the newspaper reported.

Details about how the accident occurred have not been released, but an investigation was underway, a military official told the paper.

The aircraft was a UH-1Y Venom, the report said.

Click here for more from the Orange County Register.

Oklahoma employee defends liquor store from thief, report says

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Shots rang out during an armed robbery at an Oklahoma liquor store on Thursday night after a man threatened a mother and daughter for the money in the register, Tulsa World reported.

The scary scene happened at Forest Acres Liquor in Tulsa while Tina Ring, 53, and her daughter Ashley Lee, 30, were working, the outlet said.

Surveillance video, obtained by Tulsa World, captured the moment the hooded suspect walked into the liquor store and pointed what appears to be a weapon at Lee, who was behind the counter.

After a brief exchange behind the register, the suspect rummages around before ultimately disappearing from the video. Lee’s mother then appears, at which point Lee grabs something from beneath the counter and hands it to her, the video showed.

Ring told Tulsa World on Friday that during the incident, her biggest concern was Lee’s safety.

“I didn’t want him to hurt my daughter,” Ring said. “That was my main thought.”

“All I was thinking was ‘Just give him the money and go,’ and next thing I know, I see him back in my face,” she added.

The video showed women hiding behind the counter. After the suspect reappeared, Ring appeared to fire a weapon a number of times, continuing as the suspect retreated from the building.

The suspect soon reappeared and, after seemingly getting shot, gets into a physical fight with Ring over the weapon.

Lee then appears to fire a second weapon at the thief, giving herself and her mother the opportunity to leave the building.

“I think I’m still in shock,” Ring told Tulsa World. “I don’t think I have really processed everything yet.”

The robber was identified as Tyrone Lee, a man in his thirties, Tulsa World reported, citing Sgt. Brandon Watkins of the Tulsa Police Department’s robbery unit.

According to the department’s Twitter page, a man “matching his description” turned up at a local hospital with several gunshot wounds.

Cambodia's ruling party has sure lock on Senate election

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Cambodia’s ruling party is assured of a sweeping victory in the election of a new Senate after the only real opposition to it was eliminated.

The Senate has minor decision-making powers in Cambodian politics, but the foregone conclusion of Sunday’s vote will be a foretaste of a general election in July sure to sustain the rule of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The only opposition party in Parliament, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, was dissolved in November after aggressive legal challenges by the government were sustained by the politicized courts.

Government supporters then replaced the party’s parliamentarians and commune councilors — the voters in Sunday’s indirect election.

National Election Committee spokesman Dim Sovannarum said preliminary results are expected to be announced Sunday after ballots are counted.

China will deal 'seriously' with N. Korea sanctions breaches

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A foreign ministry official says China will “seriously” deal with any breaches of U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea should they be found.

However, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Saturday that Beijing “firmly opposes the U.S. imposing unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ on Chinese entities or individuals.”

China previously said it was “highly concerned” about a reported ship-to-ship transfer that could violate sanctions and it was investigating. The incident reported by Japan in the past week was the third reported transfer in the past month.

China has agreed to impose increasingly tough sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, and Geng has said Beijing recently issued a statement explicitly banning ship-to-ship transfers.

Will Abandoning the International Space Station Set Investors Adrift?

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Boeing (NYSE: BA) and its partners spent more than $100 billion to build the International Space Station (ISS). But in 2023 (or 2024 at the latest), Russia plans to take that investment apart — detaching Russian-built sections of the ISS, and moving them into a new orbit to form the core of a new, all-Russian station.

By now, this should be old news for you, but here’s something new: President Donald Trump supports the Russian plan to abandon the ISS, and plans to cut off U.S. government support for the station as early as 2025. Boeing is not a big fan of the idea, as NASA currently pays it to help operate the station, and has awarded Boeing a multibillion-dollar contract to transport astronauts to the ISS. So Boeing has gone on record opposing the idea of “walking away” from it.

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Moving day 2025

But as we learned from the just-released NASA 2019 budget proposal, this plan is now a go, and NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot says the Trump administration wants to “end direct federal government support of the ISS in 2025.”

From that point onward, says Lightfoot, NASA will outsource “low-earth-orbit research and technology demonstration” missions to “commercial partners.”

Why cut the ISS loose?

Money does not grow on trees — especially not in space. Much as NASA loves space exploration, budget constraints necessitate picking and choosing the work it can afford to support, and outsourcing the rest. In saving money by cutting the ISS loose, NASA said that it hopes to free up funds to instead:

  • fund development of the “Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft,” targeting a robotic flight “around the moon” in 2020 and a first crewed mission in 2023.
  • sponsor “progressively complex robotic missions to the surface of the moon.”
  • “return … humans to the moon for long-term exploration and use.”
  • build a “power and propulsion element to orbit the moon as the foundation of a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.”
  • and thereby support “human missions to Mars and other destinations.”

What it means to investors

And if you ask me, this is what investors should really be focusing on — not NASA’s abandoning the space station, and potentially terminating contracts for Boeing, Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada to build rocketships to staff and supply it.

Instead, I think investors should focus on the potential for new and different contracts being awarded for all the other space missions NASA will be able to undertake once released from the ISS cash drain.

Currently, NASA devotes as much as 20% of its budget to supporting the ISS — anywhere from $3 billion to $4 billion annually. That’s money that could perhaps be better spent accelerating development of the Space Launch System, still under development by a team of contractors that includes Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne. It’s a source of funds for building a cislunar outpost to facilitate missions to the moon and Mars, and to pay for initial efforts at returning mankind to the Moonand mining it.

And even before the ISS is handed over to private industry to operate, there may be opportunities for investment. To facilitate the station’s transition to private ownership, the administration is asking Congress to allocate $150 million to NASA in 2019, and recommending NASA “expand international and commercial partnerships” to operate the ISS “over the next seven years.”

And during this interim period, the administration wants to boost NASA’s budget to pay for “development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities [that will become] commercial successors to the ISS.” This, too, will cost money — and could give rise to an entirely new set of (perhaps eventually public) companies working to make the ISS a commercially viable operation.

Companies like …

Already, privately held Made in Space has a 3D printer aboard the station, and as that technology develops, it’s conceivable the ISS and other space stations could “print” their own replacement parts on-site. Bigelow Aerospace — also private today — has for months been testing an inflatable module attached to the ISS, which could one day replace the sections Russia will be detaching. Similarly, established space companies like Boeing, Lockheed, and Orbital have all proposed novel alternatives for converting spent rocket sections into habitable living space for the ISS, or for a new space station.

Axiom Space — which, you guessed it, is also private — has a plan to build an entire new space station to replace the ISS when, at some point in the future, it is finally decommissioned and taken out of orbit. And Axiom says the cost of its space station will be at least an order of magnitude cheaper than what NASA spent to build the original ISS (i.e., if the ISS cost $100 billion, then an “Axiom Station” might cost only $10 billion).

The upshot for investors

If you ask me, NASA is making the right call in getting out of the space station business — and getting out of the way of private industry.

As Lightfoot says: NASA “can’t do everything, and as always, we’ve had to make hard choices, but we will continue to forge new paths and partnerships that strengthen our industrial base and our engagement with other nations to achieve challenging goals that advance our capabilities and increase our security and economic strength.”

While we’ll certainly be sad to see the ISS go, I think we can all support NASA’s decision to move out of low earth orbit, and expand the borders of the final frontier.

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US men's curling team accidentally given women's gold medals

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There was a little bit of confusion during the medal ceremony for Men’s Olympic Curling on Saturday at the Pyeongchang Games.

After the victorious American teammates took their place on the top step of the podium and gold medals were draped around their necks, they noticed they’d received the awards engraved for the women’s winners.

US WINTER OLYMPIC 2018 MEDAL WINNERS

Only Joe Polo, the team’s alternate, received the correct men’s medal, WNBC reported.

No sweat, though. The mixup was quickly fixed and the men got the appropriate medals they deserved.

United States's skip John Shuster puts his hands near his gold medal after winning the men's final curling match against Sweden at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The United States’ John Shuster puts his hands near his gold medal after winning the men’s final curling match against Sweden at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Making light of the gaffe with a positive attitude, athlete John Schuster simply said, “A gold medal in curling is a gold medal in curling.”

Schuster, along with teammates Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner and Polo, clinched the top prize in a 10-7 win over Sweden, scoring the underdog Americans their first-ever gold medal in men’s curling.

IVANKA TRUMP FLEW COMMERCIAL TO THE OLYMPICS

Sweden, the reigning world champion, finished second for silver, and Canada placed third, scoring bronze.

White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump was in the arena for the curling final, cheering on the American squad. She’ll be leading the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Democrats' FISA memo rebuttal: What's under those black bars?

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The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released the Democratic rebuttal to a GOP memo that outlined alleged government surveillance abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign. And that rebuttal came with heavy redactions.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but was redrafted after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document was made public. The Justice Department and the FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other sensitive information.

DEMS’ REBUTTAL TO GOP FISA MEMO IS RELEASED; TRUMP DEEMS IT A ‘BUST’

That 10-page memo was significantly redacted, and left readers with a mystery to ponder: What’s under the black bars blocking sometime-lengthy segments of text.

The majority of redactions appear to be related to intelligence about Russian activities, particularly in regard to contacts that former Trump adviser Carter Page had with Russian-linked individuals. Republicans claim that in seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page, the DOJ and the FBI abused the process by omitting information about the political motivations and funding behind an anti-Trump dossier the agencies purportedly relied on in pursuit of that warrant.

One section that has multiple redactions is under the heading of “Page’s connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials.” Segments redacted include what Page had an “extensive record” of doing before he joined the Trump campaign. It also redacts the details of a Russian intelligence officer’s alleged targeting of Page for recruitment.

One lengthy redaction relates to another Trump aide, George Papadopoulos, who had a conversation with individuals linked to Russia in April 2016. The information those individuals passed to Papadopoulos is redacted, but the memo says that it was that information which led the FBI to initiate a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016.

A line in the same paragraph gives some indication as to the redacted information by saying that the committee would later learn “that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.”

In another section, it redacts the name of an FBI agent, as well as appearing to redact the number and name of individuals into whom the FBI had opened sub-inquiries. It also redacts information related to compensation that the FBI considered giving to dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele.

Perhaps most significantly, in the process of countering the Republican claim that the DOJ relied on the anti-Trump dossier for its FISA warrant, the Democratic rebuttal outlines “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting. It then provides three bullet-pointed paragraphs, almost all of which are redacted.

While Democrats claimed that the memo undermines many of the claims in the GOP memo, Republicans were quick to dismiss the Democrats’ memo — even issuing their own lengthy rebuttal to the rebuttal.

President Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to declare it a “total political and legal BUST.”

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Texas high school teacher on administrative leave after recording student fight

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A Texas high school teacher has reportedly been placed on administrative leave after allegedly recording a fight between two students instead of intervening.

Cody Cunningham, a spokesman for McKinney Independent School District, confirmed to WFAA that a fight seen in the video did in fact take place at McKinney High School on Wednesday and that the teacher involved has been place on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.

In the video, recorded on Snapchat and shared by thousands via Twitter, the unidentified teacher can reportedly be seen laughing while recording two students fighting inside a classroom.

“McKinney ISD cannot discuss personnel matters in detail, but has taken swift and appropriate action in accordance with district policies,” Cunningham told the news outlet.

He added that it is district policy to “make every attempt to stop, or at a minimum de-escalate, any altercation between students,” WFAA reported.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in McKinney ISD.”

Dems' rebuttal to GOP FISA memo is released; Trump deems it a 'bust'

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President Trump on Saturday dismissed a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo outlining government surveillance abuses in the 2016 campaign as a “total political and legal bust,” claiming that it only confirms the ”terrible things” that were done by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

The rebuttal, written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, concluded that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

Democrats sought to counter claims made in a Republican memo released this month that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page. Democrats have claimed that the Republican memo leaves out important information.

But Trump was unimpressed by the 10-page memo.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, D-Calif., countered, saying it confirmed the FBI had in fact acted appropriately.

Republicans had found that the DOJ and FBI left out the Democratic National Committee’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s funding of the dossier, as well as the anti-Trump motivations of author and former British spy Christopher Steele in its request for a warrant. Republicans have pointed to the revelations as proof that intelligence agencies had abused surveillance powers.

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its seeking of the FISA warrant.

“In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government,” the rebuttal said, adding that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The rebuttal finds that the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations, and that he had been targeted for recruitment by the Russians. It also claims that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” It also says that the Justice Department infomed the FISA court that Stelle was hired by “politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

The rebuttal adds that the DOJ only made “narrow use” of information from Steele’s sources and that  in later FISA renewals the DOJ provided “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources” that backed up Steele’s reporting. It also challenges the Republican assertion that the FBI authorized payment to Steele, saying that it neglected that the payment was cancelled.

The memo, however, does not directly challenge the Republican assertion that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to the House Committee that they would not have sought the Page surveillance warrant if it hadn’t been for the dossier.

The rebuttal was voted out of committee earlier this month but was ordered to be redrafted after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other sensitive information.

Schiff said the minority’s memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies.

READ THE GOP MEMO

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement.

The Democratic rebuttal seemed unlikely to mark an end to the ongoing fight over the FISA application and the role of that dossier. Republicans on the committee immediately responded to the memo’s release with its own rebuttals to the Democratic claims. For instance, while the Democrats say that the court was given information about the political motivations of Steele, Republicans say that such a statement is “buried in a footnote” that obscures rather than clarifies his motives.

“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. said in a statement.

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page,” he said.

The White House called the rebuttal a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.

“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.

A Republican source dismissed the rebuttal, saying that the Democrats “want the public to look at the trees, and not the forest, the big picture that DOJ and Justice relied heavily on the dossier to surveil an American citizen, and withheld from the court that the research was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign.”

On Twitter, Trump reacted to the claim that the judge was never informed of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign’s funding by tweeting: “Wow!”

Democrats have claimed that the Republican memo was an effort to attack FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016. Trump had previously said that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the investigation.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Jennifer Bowman and Jason Donner contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

CPAC's Schlapp, ex-RNC Chairman Steele have tense exchange over racial comment

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Former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Steele on Saturday challenged CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp over a group spokesman’s suggestion that Steele was appointed to lead the RNC only because he is black, and Schlapp’s response.

The exchange occurred on a Sirius XM radio show amid the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington, D.C., and one day after CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters said: “We elected Mike Steele as chairman because he was a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do.”

Schlepp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, apologized for the situation and said he loved Steele and considered him a friend. However, Steele took issue with Schlapp saying that he wasn’t going to “separate himself from Ian.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele speaks at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans April 10. (Reuters Photo)

Several minutes later, Schlapp, who, like Steele, is a Sirius satellite radio host, said, “Those words that tumbled out of his mouth, I believed were unfortunate words.”

Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, called the words “stupid,” not “unfortunate.”

“Call it what it is,” Steele, RNC chairman from 2009 to 2011, continued in the roughly nine-minute exchange. “It is stupid to sit there and say that we elected a black man chairman of the party and that was a mistake. Do you know how that sounds to the black community?”

Walters apologized to Steele for the remarks.

Schlapp suggested throughout the exchange that some of the criticism directed at Steele is because of how he ran the RNC, and over his more recent criticism of the Republican Party.

Schlapp said he understood how such remarks, made at a Friday night dinner, are being perceived by African-Americans and the rest of America.

“I’ve spent 41 years in this party,” Steele later said. “I have taken crap you have no idea about, and I have carried this baggage. And for him to stand on that stage and denigrate my service to this party, and for you as a friend to sit there and go, ‘Well, you have been critical of this party …’ There is only one word I can say, and I can’t say it on this air.”

The Latest: Colleges lend support to student protesters

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The Latest on the backlash against the National Rifle Association after a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

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Dozens of college and universities are telling students who may face discipline at their high schools for participating in gun control demonstrations to relax: It won’t affect their chances of getting into their schools.

Nearly 50 schools including Yale, Dartmouth and UCLA have taken to social media to reassure the students. Several applauded the teenagers’ activism.

The Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead has sparked calls for walkouts, sit-ins and other actions on school campuses across the U.S.

A Texas school superintendent warned that students would face a three-day, out-of-school suspension if they joined the growing protests. Another in Wisconsin said students could be excused with parental consent.

Buzzfeed first reported that the colleges were posting the messages.

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5 p.m.

A lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after a mass shooting at a high school that killed 14 students and three educators.

In a letter sent to Scott on Saturday, Rep. Bill Hager cited the resignation of a school resource officer who didn’t enter the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started on Feb. 14. Israel has since said that he’s investigating claims by Coral Springs police officers that several of his deputies didn’t enter the building during the shooting.

As governor, Scott has the power to remove a sheriff for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton, also cited 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Hager’s letter said the sheriff “was, or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”

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4:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

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11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.

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A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

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Democratic rebuttal to GOP FISA memo sparks reactions from politicians

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The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a long-anticipated Democratic rebuttal that attempts to dismantle claims made in a GOP memo alleging the government used improper surveillance tactics during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rebuttal claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its pursuit of the FISA warrant, saying that the agencies “would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”

They added that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The GOP memo, released in early February, asserted that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. They also claimed that the agencies left out the DNC’s funding of the dossier and the anti-Trump motivations of author Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, in its request for a warrant.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redrafting was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.

Here are some reactions to the memo:

White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calls the rebuttal a “politically driven document” which “fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the rebuttal’s release, said it should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. Along with a copy of the memo, he tweeted Saturday: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, who spearheaded the release of the GOP memo, said in a statement that Americans “now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt pair for the by Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.”

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice,” Nunes said. “It defies belief that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tweeted that “the Schiff memo is a well-considered rebuttal to the misinformation in the Nunes memo,” which she added, “shouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Madeline Farber and Kaitlyn Scallhorn contributed to this report.

Who is Adam Schiff? What to know about the Democrat and his Twitter war with Trump

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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has been leading the charge against the GOP’s memo, calling it a “political hit job” on the FBI.

“If the memo was really about oversight, committee members would want to read the underlying documents and bring in the FBI. Republicans voted against both,” Schiff tweeted on Feb. 4, two days after the panel released the “surveillance” memo.

The four-page memo, released by the House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Feb. 2 claimed the infamous Trump dossier “formed an essential part” of applications by the FBI and Justice Department to spy on onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Schiff has called the Republicans’ memo “shoddy” and “misleading,” claiming it was released only to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“The president’s decision to publicly release a misleading memo attacking DOJ & FBI is a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions,” Schiff added. “We’ll fight to release our classified response.”

Schiff requested the committee release Democratic members’ own 10-page memo, with the promise to send it to the Justice Department for redactions — and the committee did just that on Feb. 24. 

In a statement, Schiff said the Democratic memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. 

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said.

The memo’s release comes  after the White House told Democratic lawmakers that the memo required certain redactions before it could be made public.

“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!” Trump tweeted after the rubuttal’s release was halted earlier this month. 

Here’s what you need to know about Schiff, his notable career moves and his recent Twitter exchanges with the president.

Who is Adam Schiff?

As a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Schiff started his career in law. He spent six years working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

During his time as assistant U.S. attorney, Schiff prosecuted the first FBI agent ever to be convicted of espionage for passing secret documents to the Soviets.

“This is a betrayal tinged with hypocrisy,” Schiff said at the trial for former FBI agent Richard Miller, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, The New York Times reported. “We have here an agent who did just exactly what he was supposed to protect against.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D. Calif., has been vocal about his objections to the GOP memo released on Feb. 2.  (Handout)

Eventually, Schiff moved on to politics.

He was elected to the California State Senate in 1996, serving four terms before heading to the House of Representatives. The Democrat has been serving in Congress since 2001.

In recent years, Schiff has shifted his focus to foreign policy and national security. He now sits as a ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and was a member of the Benghazi Select Committee, according to a biography on his official website.

Schiff’s reaction to the FISA memo

Schiff recently said he believed the White House may have been behind the memo in an attempt to interfere with the Russia probe.

“I think it’s very possible his staff worked with the White House and coordinated the whole effort with the White House,” Schiff said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

The president said the memo completely “vindicates” him in the Russia investigation, though he said the “Russian witch hunt” would  most likely continue.

“There was no collusion and there was no obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead),” Trump tweeted on Feb. 2. “This is an American disgrace!”

But Schiff said, while misleading, the memo was proof there was collusion with the Russians.

“Quite the opposite, Mr. President,” Schiff replied on Twitter. “The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your advisor, Papadopoulos, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians.”

Schiff versus Trump: The Twitter war continues

Trump targeted “Little Adam Schiff” on Feb. 5, calling him one of the “biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” as both parties continued to argue over the newly released FISA memo.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

Within minutes, Schiff fired back, tweeting: “Mr. President, I see you’ve had a busy morning of ‘Executive Time.’ Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or…really anything else.”

Trump’s tweet came shortly before Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told “Fox & Friends” that there have been “almost 100 leaks” by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee related to the Russia investigation. 

Trump’s tweet also reflected frustration with a host of figures, including Schiff’s Senate counterpart – Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who sits as ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted its own Russia probe. He also named former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

UN Security Council approves 30-day cease-fire in Syria despite Russian delays

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The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding 30-day cease fire in Syria so that it can deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the critically ill and wounded.

The proposal was approved after a two day delay caused by a lack of support from Russia, which said that an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic.

The resolution was amended late Friday to remove a stipulation that the cease-fire take effect in 72 hours. With that, Russia voted in favor of the resolution.

Despite passing the resolution, U.N. members were quick to criticize Russia for the delay.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that Russia’s attempts to initially delay the vote cost lives. “In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and shelling? How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children?” she said.

“The Syrian people should not have to die waiting for Russia to organize their instructions from Moscow, or to discuss it with the Syrians.”

Haley’s comments were seconded by U.K. Ambassador Stephen Hickey. “While we have been arguing over commas, Assad’s planes have been killing more civilians in their homes and in their hospitals, imposing unbearable suffering,” he said in a statement.

“In the face of escalating violence, devastation and suffering, we must all now take practical steps to improve the situation for those living and dying in a hell of one man’s making.”

While there is no set time for the cease-fire to begin, Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden said that humanitarian convoys and medical teams are standing by and “ready to go.”

According to the proposal, 5.6 million Syrians are in “acute need,” of help, 2.9 million of which are in hard to reach and besieged areas.

The resolution calls for all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated Syrian cities, but the council authorized one exemption. It said that attacks directed at extremists from the Islamic State group and all Al Qaeda affiliates would be allowed to continue.  

Fox News’ Ben Evansky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From politicians, polarized reactions to long-awaited Democratic countermemo

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The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a long-anticipated Democratic rebuttal that attempts to dismantle claims made in a GOP memo alleging the government used improper surveillance tactics during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rebuttal claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its pursuit of the FISA warrant, saying that the agencies “would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”

They added that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The GOP memo, released in early February, asserted that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. They also claimed that the agencies left out the DNC’s funding of the dossier and the anti-Trump motivations of author Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, in its request for a warrant.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redrafting was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.

Here are some reactions to the memo:

White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calls the rebuttal a “politically driven document” which “fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the rebuttal’s release, said it should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. Along with a copy of the memo, he tweeted Saturday: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, who spearheaded the release of the GOP memo, said in a statement that Americans “now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt pair for the by Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.”

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice,” Nunes said. “It defies belief that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, tweeted that “the Schiff memo is a well-considered rebuttal to the misinformation in the Nunes memo,” which she added, “shouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Madeline Farber and Kaitlyn Scallhorn contributed to this report.

The Latest: Lawmaker calls for sheriff's removal

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The Latest on the backlash against the National Rifle Association after a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

5 p.m.

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A lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after a mass shooting at a high school that killed 14 students and three educators.

In a letter sent to Scott on Saturday, Rep. Bill Hager cited the resignation of a school resource officer who didn’t enter the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started on Feb. 14. Israel has since said that he’s investigating claims by Coral Springs police officers that several of his deputies didn’t enter the building during the shooting.

As governor, Scott has the power to remove a sheriff for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton, also cited 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Hager’s letter said the sheriff “was, or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”

4:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

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11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.

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A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

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White House, Schiff spar over Dems' surveillance memo

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The White House and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee sparred Saturday over the release of the memo by Democrats regarding the alleged surveillance abuses in the Russia investigation.

“Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat. “We can now tell you what they left out.”

Schiff led efforts to release the memo, a rebuttal to the one Republican leaders of the GOP-controlled committee released earlier this month.

The memo alleged that the Justice Department obtained a surveillance warrant on one-time Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, based on a loosely verified anti-Trump dossier, paid for at least in part by Democrats, including the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. The warrant request was made to the federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Trump allowed the release of the Republican and Democratic memos.

“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency,” the White House said Saturday, after the memo was released.

“Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the (GOP’s) memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.

“As the majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the (Democratic National Committee) funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application. In addition, the minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the deputy FBI director told the committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought. As the president has long stated, neither he nor his campaign ever colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election, and nothing in today’s memo counters that fact.”

California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence committee, said Saturday: “The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Comparisons between Ivanka Trump, Kim Jong Un’s sister are sickening – Media can’t decide which way to lean

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Ivanka Trump is in South Korea for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games and, inevitably, she is being compared to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who attended the opening ceremonies.

The disgusting fawning over Kim Yo Jong at the start of the Olympics exposed a truth about much of America’s mainstream media: any enemy of President Trump will be showered in praise.

It didn’t matter than Kim Jong Un is a brutal despot who is starving his own people, allows no freedom, and imprisons or kills his opponents. A documentary called “Secret State of North Korea” – made in 2014 using video smuggled out of North Korea – showed people in the countryside eating grass. What mattered was the opportunity to show up Donald Trump.

Writing in the New York Post at the start of the Olympics about the fawning coverage given Kim Yo Jong, Bethany Mandel, who frequently fundraises to rescue North Korean refugees hiding in China noted that it was “strange reading a red carpet-like report about a member of a regime that has concentration camps the size of Los Angeles, where children have been secretly photographed starving in the streets and whose leader uses anti-aircraft weaponry to execute his political enemies.”

Kim Yo Jong isn’t to be celebrated, nor compared to a free woman like Ivanka Trump, who represents a country of free people. Kim Yo Jong should be confronted about her brother’s atrocities at every opportunity.

But no, in the choice between Ivanka Trump or the sister of a murderous dictator (who is, actually said to have killed one of his other siblings), the American media just can’t decide which way to lean.

Writing in the Daily Beast on Friday, in a piece headlined “Ivanka Trump Struggles With Winter Olympics Charm Offensive,” Donald Kirk wondered about Ivanka and Kim Yo Jong, “which de facto ambassador won the charm offensive at the Winter Games?” He concluded it was a draw.

Meanwhile Newsweek set up  a competition with the headline: “IVANKA TRUMP READY FOR PR BATTLE WITH KIM JONG UN’S SISTER AT WINTER OLYMPICS CLOSING CEREMONY.”

Jessica Kwong wrote in Newsweek: “Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, captured hearts during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. She was dubbed North Korea’s Ivanka, stealing the spotlight from stern U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was under direct orders to shun the North’s propaganda campaign.”

There’s something comically backward about the idea that Vice President Mike Pence was under “direct orders” while Kim Jong Un’s sister was not. And there’s something terribly wrong about celebrating the representative of the country that kills people who wish to leave, starves children and generally has its boot on the necks of its people.

Kim Yo Jong isn’t to be celebrated, nor compared to a free woman like Ivanka Trump, who represents a country of free people. Kim Yo Jong should be confronted about her brother’s atrocities at every opportunity.

The American media think they are brave when they call Ivanka Trump “complicit” to her father’s agenda. Actual bravery would be to challenge Kim Yo Jong to do something about the horrors perpetrated by her brother on the North Korean people.

Karol Markowicz is a columnist at the New York Post. She has also written for Time, USA Today, The Observer, Heat Street, Federalist, Daily Beast and elsewhere.

Yanks ecstatic about Florial’s potential

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Faces beam when Estevan Florial’s name is mentioned around the Yankees’ talent evaluators, and as the 20-year-old phenom settles into his first Major League Spring Training, manager Aaron Boone said that it is already apparent why the center fielder is held in high regard.

What is the Democrats' rebuttal to Nunes' memo? 5 things to know about the document

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The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday officially released the Democratic rebuttal to the controversial GOP memo that purported to show improper use of surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The news comes after the White House told Democratic lawmakers on Feb. 9 to revise their rebuttal memo regarding the Russia investigation, saying that the document required certain redactions before it can be made public. 

Earlier this month, Trump made public a memo written by Republicans on the committee that detailed alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department in its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump stirred controversy with his assertion that the memo “totally vindicates” him of any wrongdoing.

In light of the countermemo’s release, here are some key takeaways. 

Redactions

There were several redactions in the rebuttal memo released on Saturday. 

Previously, California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said he is wary that Trump could make redactions in the document for “political purposes.”

However, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said the memo contains information that he would be “uncomfortable” about seeing released without redaction by the White House. The redacted bits likely refer to sources of information and methods of intelligence gathering.  

‘Bolster’ FBI credibility

The rubuttal released on Saturday claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The original memo said ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s controversial dossier – a 35-page document compiled for the firm Fusion GPS – was the catalyst for a surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page, a former foreign adviser to Trump.

The surveillance warrant and renewals did not mention that the dossier was paid for, at least in part, by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to the memo spearheaded by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told Fox News the Democrats’ document “bolsters” the FBI’s credibility in the Russia probe. He said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was given a “voluminous amount” of evidence to obtain the warrant to spy on Page.

The Democratic rebuttal released on Saturday claims that the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations. The rubuttal also asserts that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” 

Contradicting the Nunes memo

Swalwell also said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court was aware of the “likely political motivation” behind the dossier – a direct contradiction of what the Republicans’ memo detailed.

“The court weighed that and still granted the application,” Swalwell said. “There was a bias, but the evidence was so overwhelming, the application was granted anyway.”

graphic

Schiff said previously that his party’s memo would “help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo.”

“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement on Saturday. 

Further politicization of the probe

The Democrats’ memo is largely seen as a rebuttal to the GOP’s document, intensifying the partisan divide on the House Intelligence Committee.

After the rebuttal document’s release, the White House called it a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.

“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.

And ahead of the document’s release, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said the memo was not accurate for “a million different reasons,” Politico reported.

Review by FBI and DOJ

The Democrats’ memo was shared with the FBI and Justice – something Republicans did not do before releasing their document, Schiff said, according to Politico.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.